My general rule of thumb is: never feel guilty about eating pasta if there’s veggies involved. This dish (despite carbs and cheese) has a very light flavor and tastes amazing with the addition of a little lemon juice and asparagus. This is also a great meal if you’re not in the mood to put in a huge effort for dinner. I made this solo one night and didn’t feel bad when I ate half the pan…it’s that good. Pair this with a little sauv blanc and you’ve got yourself the perfect night.
P R E P
This is a really easy dish to make if you’re a little hesitant on making a gourmet meal. It’s ONE pan and doesn’t take a lot of ingredients or time to make. As always, prepping everything before you deep dive into it (getting your asparagus ready, measuring out your ingredients) will save you time and stress, and it also means you can down a little more wine while you’re cooking…bonus.
What you’ll need
- One large pan w/ a lid (saute pan). This should be deep enough to hold both the water and chicken broth…can’t have anything overflowing here. Also, don’t be ashamed if you don’t have any pans with lids, I’ve improvised with just another pan on top when I’ve been desperate.
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken. Dice these puppies into 1-inch cubes, they don’t need to look perfect. Add salt and pepper.
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. This will be for the chicken.
- Foil. This will be to wrap the chicken in to keep it warm.
- 1 1/2 tablespoon butter. I prefer unsalted, but use whatever you got.
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped.
- 1 15 oz can of low sodium chicken broth.
- 1 1/2 cup water.
- 8-10 oz penne pasta. Bow-tie would also be good.
- 1 bunch of asparagus, rinsed and diced. Remove the tough parts (the bottom) and dice into whatever size you want–I cut mine into about 1 inch stems, but it’s your call!
- 4 oz cream cheese. I used the low-fat cream cheese, but if you’re not a fan and want the “real” stuff, you do you.
- 1/2 cup of shaved or finely shredded Parmesan cheese. To be honest I used probably a full cup because I just love me some cheese, but it’s up to your discretion. I also used shaved Parmesan because that’s what I had in the fridge, but finely shredded might be better. Your call!
- 1 lemon. You’ll use this for the juice AND for some zest.
Total prep time: 20 minutes (this included the dicing of the chicken and asparagus).
Part 1: The Chicken
**Make sure your chicken is cut/cubed before you start.**
- Heat your olive oil (1 1/2 tbsp) on medium-medium high heat and make sure the pan is hot before adding your chicken.
- Cook chicken until it’s all the way cooked (no pink in the middle), roughly 8 minutes. I’m MAJOR paranoid about undercooking chicken, so if you’re like me try to get a pan with a lid so it’ll really cook all the way through. The good news about diced chicken is it definitely cooks faster.
- Once chicken is thoroughly cooked through, place on your prepared foil (hope you followed directions and have it handy) and wrap up to keep warm.
Part 2: The Pasta and Asparagus
**You’re still using the same pan, so once you add the butter and garlic use your spoon/spatula to break up some of the chicken residue so it doesn’t burn the pan.**
- Lower your stove to medium-medium low and add your butter (1 1/2 tbsp). This will melt quickly so make sure your garlic is ready to go.
- Add your garlic (2 cloves, minced or chopped) and saute until that aroma just warms your little soul. Saute for about 30 seconds max. Remember to keep stirring any loose lil bits.
- Add your broth (15 oz) and water (1/2 cups). Season with a little salt and pepper. Continue to stir up the brown bits/garlic goodness.
- Add your pasta (8-10 oz). Stir, and then cover for roughly 8-9 minutes. Set your timer!
- Time to add your asparagus (hopefully you have these babies diced and ready to go). Simply place on top and re-cover your pan so it can boil for 5 minutes–no need to stir. You want the asparagus to be tender. If you’re hesitant, just stick a fork in it and if it easily pierces through, it’s done.
Part 3: The Cheesy Finale
**There should be some water/broth leftover after the pasta and asparagus is done cooking. DO NOT DRAIN, this will help create the saucey-ness, and if it ends up being too thick you can always add more broth/a little water**
- Add in allllllll that cheese (4 oz cream cheese and 1/2 cup-1 cup of parmesan). Stir stir stir–this makes for a great Boomerang.
- The final touch: lemon. Before you cut into your lemon: use a lemon zester (is that what they’re called…?) or a cheese grater if necessary to get a little lemon zest (roughly 1-2 tbsp).
- I absolutely love a strong lemon flavor, but if the zestiness isn’t your thing I’d recommend using half the lemon. It can definitely be overpowering, so start with half of your lemon squeezed in and taste.
- Stir until everything is melted, and then add in your chicken.
- Turn off stove and cover for about 5 minutes so the sauce can thicken up. It’s ok if it’s not a thick consistency.
- Serve up and maybe go wild and add some extra cheese on top.
POST COOKING NOTES
After thoughts, nutritional information and how to store!
- I’m a huge fan of drinking while cooking (shocking), so to me this was necessary to open up a good, cold bottle of my fave Joel Gott Sauv Blanc. I think having a little glass of wine while cooking makes me feel fancy and it helps alleviate any stress of cooking. If you’re feeling doubtful: challenge extended.
- I know all the directions seem overwhelming, but this is an easy dish and perfect for date night, family dinner, or if you’re just in the mood for a well balanced meal: protein, carbs and veggies.
- 1 serving is roughly 380 calories…not bad considering there’s cheese AND pasta.
- How to store: Make sure your meal is fully cooled until you store it. Place in an airtight container and enjoy for 3-4 days. I haven’t put this in the freezer before but I wouldn’t recommend…cheese never ends up being quite the same after being frozen. However, this is UNREAL as leftovers too.
If you end up making these, feel free to tag me on Instagram (cayhay1351) or use the hashtag #basickneads!