I wind up making pasta for dinner approximately once a week. It’s not always the best decision as far as my waste line is concerned (I have a bit of a portion control problem) but pasta is so versatile, quick and easy that I wind up cooking with it quite often. It’s my go to when I don’t have a lot of time to cook and when I have random ingredients I need to use up. This was the case last week when I came up with this recipe. I needed to make something fast and I didn’t want to make a special trip to the grocery store.
I used to think that making cream sauce was a bit of a project. I always equated cream sauce to bechamel, which as I’ve learned to cook, is actually not that difficult to make but it’s something I used to struggle with, strangely enough. The sauce would never thicken properly. It’s something I’ve learned to master over time but it can still sometimes take a little work. But what I’ve also realized, over time, is that cream sauce doesn’t always mean you have to make a bechamel sauce first. In fact, there are many ways to make a cream sauce. My favorite way is utilized in this recipe. I bring some liquid, usually wine or chicken broth, to a boil and then I add some type of cream cheese to the liquid and let it melt. It creates a tangy, creamy sauce without a roux. I think it’s the easiest and tastiest way to make cream sauces, no offense to bechamel.
In this recipe, I used boursin garlic & herb cheese instead of regular cream cheese. It gave the sauce great flavor and melted beautifully. Once you make the sauce and cook the pasta, you can get creative and add whatever you like to this dish. Like I said, pasta is a great way to use whatever you have on hand in your fridge and pantry. I happened to use frozen peas, red bell pepper and chicken in mine.
Creamy pasta with chicken, peas and peppers:
1 lb of pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 package of boursin garlic & fine herb cheese (5.2 oz)
1 cup of frozen peas
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook until al dente (according to package directions). Drain and set to the side.
2. Heat the oil in a sautee pan over medium heat and add the diced chicken in a single layer. Let it sear on one side and then flip it over. Season with salt and pepper. Sautee the chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and set to the side.
3. Add the red bell pepper and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir for 1-2 minutes until the peppers soften. Remove the peppers and garlic from the pan and transfer them to the plate with the chicken. Set to the side
4. Add the wine and the chicken broth to the hot sautee pan and let it cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring to bring up any brown bits from the chicken and peppers (brown bits = flavor).
5. Add the boursin cheese and stir until it melts into the liquid and creates a creamy consistency, approximately 5 minutes.
6. Add the frozen peas and stir for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and the peppers and garlic back into the pan with the sauce and let it heat through for 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes and stir. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary.
7. In a large bowl, combine the pasta and the sauce mixture. Stir in the parmesan cheese and mix well.