Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Pasta with Chicken & Vegetables

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Last night I roasted a whole chicken. The basic procedure for roasting a chicken is posted here, but I modified it a bit based on what I had on hand. I found myself without any fresh herbs (gasp!) and no carrots, so I used a combination of dried herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, along with some fennel seeds. I let them sit in olive oil for a bit, while I prepared the chicken.

There was lots of leftover chicken. Tonight I used most that to make a pasta dish.For the recipe below, you will want to adjust the quantity of the ingredients based on what you have and how much meat vs. pasta vs. vegetables you want.

Pasta with Chicken & Vegetables

Chicken Mushroom Pasta

Your favorite pasta
Leftover roasted chicken
Fresh garlic, minced
Cooking greens, cleaned and well drained (spinach, arugula, chard…)
Pine nuts
Avocado and/or olive oil

  1. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Follow the directions on whatever pasta you’re using. Remember that if you’re using fresh pasta that it cooks very quickly, so you’ll want to do this last, not first. You’ll want to start cooking the pasta as soon as the water is boiling; it will be cooking while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Rinse the mushrooms and set aside to drain. Tonight I used a combination of Chantrelle, Shiitake, and Crimini mushrooms.
  3. Cut or shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
  4. If you’re using frozen peas, remove from the freezer and rinse with cool water. Set aside in a colander to drain.
  5. Lightly toast the pine nuts and set aside. You can do this in a heavy bottomed skillet on the stove or in the oven. Just watch them very carefully – they can turn from not quite perfect to scorched in an instant. If you’re not sure, click here for more detailed instructions.
  6. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat some of the oil. Place the garlic in the oil and cook until it just starts to color. Add the mushrooms and saute on medium-high heat. When they’re cooked to your liking, remove from the heat and set aside in a covered bowl. Return the pan to the heat.
  7. If needed, add a little more oil to the pan and then add the chicken. Saute over medium-high heat until it browns a little. Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the peas, then cover to keep warm.
  8. If needed, add a little more oil to the pan and turn the heat to high. Add the greens and cover. They’ll cook quickly, so keep an eye on them. When the greens have wilted, return the chicken and mushroom mixture, toss to combine well, cover and allow to heat through. Tonight a used a combination of spinach and arugula, but really any cooking greens you like will be wonderful in this.
  9. The pasta should be cooked by now. Drain and return to the cooking pan. Add the chicken and mushroom mixture and gently toss to combine well.
  10. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper, red chile flakes.

Keep in mind that this makes for great leftovers, so feel free to make a big batch.

I think it was a hit ... don't you?

This pasta dish makes an excellent dinner for the night before a big ride, or a recovery dinner after a big ride. It’s also easy to make and comforting after a long day’s work. Protein, carbs, vegetables, healthy oils, and it tastes great!

It paired quite nicely with a Pinot Noir, or would also go well with a Chardonnay.

Enjoy in good health!


Just Three Weeks Away!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

The Napa Valley Tour de Cure is just 3 weeks from today!

I’ve got brand new Continental Grand Prix Four Season tires and a nice tune-up on my Colnago, so my bike is all set to go. I got a good training ride in yesterday with 85 miles from Davis, Winters, Vacaville, Dixon, and back to Davis. Just a couple of rolling hills in there, so I’ve still got some hill work to feel ready. Next weekend! Today’s ride will be a nice couple of hours spinning recovery ride.

After the ride I made a big batch of brown rice penne pasta with marinara, ground turkey breast, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, argula, toasted fennel seeds, and herbs. It tasted good, but it was not a very pretty sauce, so no photos. It was just about the perfect post-ride dinner, though.

It’s a bit breezy here this weekend, so that will add to the training benefit, right?!

Dressing Up a Jar of Pasta Sauce

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Dressed Up Sauce

So, so glad to have the chance to ride yesterday! I logged only 56.6 miles, but it felt like a little more. More than anything else, I am sure this has to do with my not riding much recently, but we also encountered some of those “Davis Hills” again. The breeze picked up, but then calmed down a bit by the time we were headed back. The ride was nothing too exciting, just my normal warm up loop and then a jaunt out to Winters and back.

I did work up quite an appetite, though. On my warm-up loop I was already thinking about dinner. What to cook? I really did not want to run to the store yesterday – pre-SuperBowl crowds, you know? Hmm … what’s on hand? Greens, of course. Baby spinach and kale. Protein? Some beautiful, light, healthy cod. Shiitake mushrooms. How about a super healthy and light dinner of sauteed shiitakes with spinach, then some pan roasted cod? I picked up a jar of apricot-chile jam the other day and that sounded like it would make a lovely glaze for the fish. That sounded like a great plan!

After my warm-up loop, I grabbed the cod from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator to thaw.

Then we headed out towards Winters. It was a bit slow-going, but at least we were out in the abundant sunshine. There were only a few other cyclists out, so I was especially glad to have company on my ride.

We stopped for snack at Steady Eddy’s for a water refill and snack. It’s under new ownership and they’ve made just enough changes to make it feel different. They moved a few things around. Not to be so picky, but … there isĀ  no more Coca Cola in bottles. Cans, yes, but it’s just not the same. I don’t know why, but it just isn’t. And … no oat cakes?! Hopefully they were just sold out. Oh, well … I guess I just need to come up with my own oat cake recipe. The good news is that there were still lots of familiar, friendly staff faces there.

Oh, yes … the sauce … you’re wondering when I am going to talk about pasta sauce. I got sidetracked.

When we got home from our ride, I made a few snacks. A handful of mixed nuts. A half cup of low fat Greek yogurt. A big bowl of heirloom cherry tomato, cucumber, and avocado salad loaded with fresh thyme and parsley, lightly dressed with a touch of olive oil and balsamic glaze and a sprinkle of pink sea salt. A bite (okay, two) of dark chocolate. Lots of water and a Zevia ginger root beer. I am not much for diet soda, but this one is sweetened with stevia, an all natural and zero calorie sugar substitute. It’s pretty good – light and refreshing. I’m not entirely used to the flavor of stevia, but it’s better than those nasty artificial sweeteners.

By the time it got to be dinner time, the cod was still frozen. Hmm … now I really did not want to go to the store and I was hungrier than I expected to be, so what else could I make?

There is always pasta in this house and a box of whole grain thin spaghetti practically jumped out of the cabinet into my arms. I haven’t made spaghetti in ages! There was also a jar of prepared sauce. Jarred sauce, even really good jarred sauce, just won’t do. I have to dress it up.

Dressed Up Sauce

1 jar of your favorite prepared tomato-based pasta sauce
1 splash of olive oil
4-6 ounces fresh mushrooms
1 large carrot, grated
6-8 small fresh tomatoes
3-4 handfuls of baby spinach
fresh herbs
freshly grated good quality Parmesan cheese
1 box of your favorite pasta

Prepare all of your ingredients – clean the vegetables and herbs. Chop the herbs and set aside. Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the pasta.

In a large, non-reactive skillet or saucier, heat the olive oil until it starts to shimmer. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat. I like to brown them just a bit. Add the shredded carrot and saute a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook down just a bit. Add the spinach, cover with a lid, and let it steam a few moments to wilt, then add the sauce. Give it a little stir, then cover and cook gently. You don’t want this sauce to boil – that will destroy the texture of the vegetables and make it acidic. You just want it to bubble gently. I like to add about half of the herbs to the sauce when it is cooking, and use the other have for garnish. I used fresh thyme and Italian parsley for this dish. I love fresh thyme with mushrooms.

Grate the cheese and set aside.

Cook the pasta. Drain. If you want, drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta.

Assemble your dinner. This is best served in a large, flat bowl.

Building the Plate

Dinner is Served!

Portion the pasta into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese and fresh herbs. Top with sauce and a little more cheese and a generous sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Whenever possible, I use whole grain pasta. Spinach pasta would be fantastic with this sauced. If you’re gluten-intolerant, try this with a gluten-free brown rice pasta.

You can make this vegetarian, or it is also great with sausage. To keep it healthy – choose a low fat chicken or turkey sausage loaded with herbs. I had about 1 tablespoon of leftover chopped bacon that I added to the sauce and that added just a nice hint of flavor.

Like Pasta Primavera? Simply add more vegetables. This would be wonderful with zucchini, squash, eggplant, onions, whatever vegetables you like.

Want to make this entirely from scratch? Skip the jarred sauce and use homemade tomato sauce. (That will have to be a different post.)


Now it’s time to get ready to ride today before the rain starts.