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Friday, June 28, 2013

Penne Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

This delicious Italian dish was inspired by a recipe on Jacques Pepin's television show.  His recipe called for eggplant and escarole as the main focus of the dish, which was a yummy vegetarian choice, but we switched it up a bit by using chicken breast and baby spinach.  The results we so good, even our picky eater gave this dish a thumbs up. Yay!

The ingredients in this dish are things you probably already have on hand.  You could use just about any regular or whole wheat pasta shape including fettuccine or linguine noodles.  The one secret ingredient in the sauce is a small can of anchovies.  (Don't tell my daughter!)  I know many people don't like anchovies, but I hope you give them a try in this recipe.  Anchovies add lots of flavor and really make this sauce something special.

What makes this meal even better is that it's cooked in one pot, and for me, that is a major time saver.  This made a really light summer meal, focusing more on the chicken and spinach and going a little light on the pasta.  A glass of Chardonnay wine adds the final touch.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Olive Oil
2 lb  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut thinly into 1-inch diameter slices
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1 tsp  Red Pepper Flakes
3 oz can  Anchovies, chopped, oil reserved
2  6-oz bags  Baby Spinach, rinsed and large stems removed
1 lb  Pasta of Your Choice, such as Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

In a medium pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Keep warm.

In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken for 4 minutes, turning several times, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan, stir and cook 4 minutes longer, or until the chicken is no longer pink, then reduce heat to medium.

Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a platter;  cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the anchovies along with any oil from the container to the pan and stir, then add the spinach and stir again.  Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook over medium heat for about 4 - 5 minutes or until the spinach has reduced.

Return the chicken and any collected juices to the pan and stir, then drain the pasta and add it to the pan, stirring well to combine.  Cook for 2 - 3 minutes longer while the sauce thickens.  Serves about 8.

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