Now let's get down to business...the food! When David and I got married, we ate lots of pasta. I don't know why. I guess because it's quick and cheap. But it can make you chunky if you eat too much of it, which is what started happening to us. We cut way back on pasta, switched to the whole wheat variety when we do have it, and started eating more lean meats and veggies. But we still love the stuff, so we have it about once a week or so. As you probably know by now, I can easily get bored cooking the same things over and over again, so I'm developing a rather large file of recipes to try. Light and healthy pasta recipes seem to be few and far between, so when I find one, I snap it up and try it out as soon as possible. And, since it's summer, I'm not really feeling heavy meat sauces. The last few pasta recipes I've tried have nary a tomato in sight, and they're great!
I found this recipe on Melanie's site, My Kitchen Cafe. I can't even remember how I found her and her wonderful little corner of the Internet, but I'm so glad that I did. I've tried several of her recipes, and they've all been absolutely delicious! She has no idea, but she got David and me through Bible school week (when I was gone pretty much every night) on her healthy crockpot meals! Because it was Bible school, I didn't get pictures of the dishes, but they were so good that they're definitely on the "make again" list. I turned to her again this week when I needed a healthy, quick dish for supper. The Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach was wonderful, and so easy! I think she originally got the recipe from Cook's Country and did some tweaking.
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
6 Tbs. olive oil (I cut this back to about 4 Tbs.)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. penne pasta (I used whole wheat)
5 oz. baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 Tbs. dried basil
6 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, combine garlic, pepper flakes, and oil in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the garlic is golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the garlic/red pepper oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat until oil is rippling. Add chicken and cook until well browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until tender but still lightly firm (al dente). Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot. Stir in chicken, spinach, basil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and remaining garlic/red pepper oil, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper serve immediately.