Monday, January 16, 2012

Creamy Chicken Rigatoni

Ok, so I love to look at a recipe and figure out how I can change it.  I rarely follow recipes to the T, usually because I don't have something that it calls for or I don't like something that is in it.  I adapted this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's recipe for Penne a la Betsy.  Both of my kids ate seconds on this, and they are picky eaters!  I hope you enjoy!
  • 3/4 lb rigatoni, cooked al dente
  • 1 lb cooked chicken pieces, i used the left overs from the previous night's roasted chicken
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. tomato sauce, not the flavored kind
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • a handful of fresh spinach, chopped or chiffonad like I did
  • chopped parsley and basil to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cook your pasta, I used rigatoni because it's what I had on hand.  Tips: wait until the water is boiling and then salt the water - if you salt it first it will take longer to boil - make sure to salt the water to season your pasta.  The water should be at a full boil while cooking - this will keep the pasta from sticking.  Cook to al dente - tender firm - a slight bite to it.
In a large skillet heat your butter and olive oil.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent ... make sure that your heat is not too high ... you do not want to brown the onion and garlic.  Add chicken broth and simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in tomato sauce until well incorporated followed by the heavy cream.  Simmer on low for a few minutes while you chop your herbs and spinach.  Tip:  stack spinach leaves, roll up and chop into thin slices for a nice chiffonad (fancy, huh?)
Stir in your chicken and salt and pepper to taste.  When the chicken is warmed through, stir in herbs and spinach.  Finally, toss with pasta!  Enjoy!

Extra notes:
*You could add in a few tablespoons of pureed cauliflower or carrots or flaxseed to the sauce to add extra nutrition!  I like to hide stuff like that!  The spinach is a hidden veggie for my kids because they will assume that it is herbs!
*Make your chicken pieces about the same size as your pasta ... it will be pleasing to your palate!
*Curly parsley has a more subtle flavor than Italian, flat-leaf parsley.  Use Italian if you want a stronger flavor.
*If you cook your pasta ahead of time, rinse it so it does not all stick together.  If you cook it simultaneously, don't rinse it ... the starch will help the sauce stick to the noodles!  Also, use noodles that have the striations to help sauce stick too!
*If you do not care much for garlic, you can make the flavor more subtle in a couple of ways.  Peel it and smash with with the side of your knife.  After you saute, take it out.  OR The more finely you chop garlic the stronger the flavor becomes.  You are going to have to trust me on this one ... I learned it on Food Network.  When garlic is cooked it becomes mild and nutty in flavor ... give it a chance! :)
*Try different types of onion for different flavors!  Red, yellow and white will all taste a little different!  You could even try shallot for a sweeter flavor!
*Finally, my little lecture about the oil and butter.  Extra-virgin olive oil is heart healthy ... a little pricey but a little goes a long way!  When cooking with evoo, I usually have to turn my heat a little lower than normal because it has a lower smoking temperature.  Also, use REAL butter!  It is natural and your body knows how to handle it!  Margarine and substitutes are not natural substances.  Lastly, make sure to use both!  The  oil keeps the butter from burning.  They are good friends :)


  1. Very nice! I will have to try this one - thanks!

  2. Try Dreamfield's Pasta--it is specially formulated to have less carbs (tells more about it on the box) and still tastes great. Not sure if you are concerned with portion size or not, but it's really helped me with my food journey this year.