Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Sunday Night Quickie

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, what to have for dinner on Sunday?  Especially a Sunday where I have been completely lazy and not planned anything.  I have recently felt good about my culinary selections since I have been trying to eat a little more healthy, and hopefully I will continue to do so in the future (gulp). 

But healthy in my experience not only requires willpower but planning and that my friends I did not do for Sunday.  Sunday as I might have said before is the one day of the week I really want to cook dinner, and a nice one if I can.  It just seems to recharge my batteries before I face another week in the salt mines.  However, it is hard to recharge the battery when you're stressing about how to do it.  I find that for various reasons when I find myself in a pinch I always fall back on pasta......it is my old reliable, and always a little bit of a comfort for me. 

And this scenario I think definitely fell under the "pinch" category......so pasta it was.  But what to do with pasta, the possibilities are endless damn it!  I wanted to continue with the healthy theme, well kind of anyway, and I remembered that I had some chicken tenderloins in the freezer that were leftover from a vetoed recipe.  I also had some broccoli in the refrigerator that was growing some interesting fuzz (see I have healthy stuff, even though it is sitting next to four pounds of butter) but nonetheless it inspired me.  Luckily, these three things were enough to get me going, and I went to the market to get fuzz-free broccoli...........and some more butter, not that I didn't have enough already.
So I came home with my broccoli and lots of other stuff I didn't need (damn you Whole Foods!) and with a "swish and flick" as my Harry Potter loving three year old would say, I whipped up my Sunday feast, while taking a few timeouts to dance with my little one in the living room.  And as I sat and ate my little Sunday pasta supper I thought to myself that Sunday couldn't get much better.  I did a little shopping, a little cooking, ate lots of pasta, and to top it off, had free tickets to three year old ballet theater in my living room.......life is good.

Fusilli With Broccoli And Lemon Basil Chicken

Cook Time: 45 minutes

1-1/2lbs Chicken Tenderloins
Juice from two lemons
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2lbs broccoli florets
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1lb fusilli pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a small food processor or blender combine one clove of the garlic, the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, zest, basil, red pepper flakes, and half of the salt and pepper.  Blend until the basil and garlic are finely chopped.  In a medium dish drizzle about a quarter of the basil mixture over the chicken tenderloins.  Reserve the remaining vinaigrette.  Toss the chicken to coat and marinate for about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile heat a large pot of water until boiling.  Salt the water and add the pasta.  Cook the pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Drain pasta and pour into a large serving bowl.  In addition to cooking the pasta steam the broccoli until tender crisp, about 3 minutes.  Plunge the cooked broccoli into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Drain the broccoli and add to the pasta. 

Once the chicken has marinated season the chicken with the remaining salt and pepper.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the chicken, browning the tenderloins on both sides.  Remove chicken from the heat, place on a cutting board, and let rest for about 5 minutes. 

Mince the remaining garlic and add to the skillet you used to cook the chicken.  Cook the garlic just until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the yummy brown bits.  Once the chicken has rested cut the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the broccoli and pasta. 

Pour the juices from the pan over the pasta, broccoli, and chicken followed by the reserved vinaigrette.  Toss the pasta until well combined, using the reserved pasta water to loosen the pasta.  Salt and pepper the pasta to taste.  Add the Parmesan cheese and toss again.  Serve pasta with some additional Parmesan and a little freshly chopped basil.

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