Friday, July 27, 2012

Pasta with Chicken and Lemon

I don't know about you, but I am always trying to find ways to get vegetables into what we are eating. Sometimes I dice them and throw them in soup, with pasta, or into a starch. Often, I have a giant pile on each person's plate, hoping the sheer magnitude will force them to eat at least half.
I recently realized my husband is throwing away his vegetables when he clears his own plate. I hadn't noticed right away because he always comes back with a giant pile of rice doused with Tabasco and that's all I can think about. After a minute or two I realize he ate a lot of vegetables, and as I open my mouth to ask how they were I realize he threw them away. It has only taken me two or three years to catch on to this. A couple weeks ago at dinner I finally confronted him.
"Did you throw your vegetables away?!!" I already knew the answer.
I just wanted to see if he will tell me the truth. I wait, staring at him with my eyes open as wide as they will go. It puts a man in a difficult position. Admit to your mistake (not a good idea) or, lie (definitely not a good idea). He chokes on his rice, Tabasco burning his throat. My lips turn up in an evil smirk, happy that some justice has been served to him for throwing away the food I spent all afternoon composing.
I don't remember what he said, but he is pretty good at deflecting. He probably said something like, "This rice is so delicious!" or "I ate most of them." Which prompts me to run to the trash and fling it open, examining the contents, which also includes the boys vegetables, Ethan's dinner plate (still can't quite make it to the sink every time), and something Max spit out. Of course now I am spiraling out of control. Insanely reprimanding the children for spilling their milk and throwing their food on the floor. And all he had to do was eat his veggies. Really guys, is it worth it?

One of the only ways I can get my family to each veggies without a peep, even devouring them is with pasta. Usually brown butter or some rich white sauce has to cover them, but not in the case of this dish.  Olive oil is infused with lemon zest and lemon juice, seasoned with salt and pepper, so it is almost a salad dressing. It has a delicious, bright flavor, perfect for summertime dishes, and it is very easy to adapt to whatever you have. This recipe has gone the way they usually do. Its a pasta, so after I made it the first time, I didn't use the recipe. Our grocery store doesn't have arugula so I used spinach. The next time I used green beans or broccoli. I sliced up some grilled chicken because my sister doesn't like shrimp. I have a tomato sitting on the counter so I sliced it up and throw it in there. I have made it again and again, then, I wandered back to the recipe, only to find I  have strayed so far from the original it has become its own dish.

This is one of those dishes that easily adapts to what you have on hand. The original had arugula and shrimp, and something else, but I have swapped out the arugula for asparagus tips, broccoli, kale, and green beans. The shrimp I have used or grilled chicken breast, or leftover rotisserie chicken. Sometimes I add grated Parmesan, sometimes large shavings, sometimes I leave it out. I add fresh tomatoes and chopped parsley. Olives would be delicious, and some chopped prosciutto.

Pasta with Chicken and Lemon

1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 lb chicken
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

 2 cups green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
(broccoli florets, asparagus, zucchini, and kale are also great in here, but the cooking time would need to be adjusted

2 fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Combine the olive oil, zest and juice of the lemon, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium high heat with olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and sear each side for about 3 minutes, reduce the heat to medium and cover. After you add the pasta to the boiling water, add the green beans to the boiling pasta when you have five minutes of cooking time left.

Cook the chicken, covered for 5 additional minutes. Remove to a cutting board for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta after the appropriate time, and return to the pot. Turn the burner on low and toss with the lemon dressing and a little Parmesan, if you like. Slice the chicken thinly and add along with the chopped tomatoes and toss again. After plating, add additional Parmesan.

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