Does anyone else eat a meal and then immediately begin to think about what your next meal is going to be? While on trips in California with friends, we would stuff ourselves so full that we could barely walk back to the car, but it would never fail...the minute seat belts were buckled, someone would say, "So, what's for dinner?!" It became kind of a joke, but really, when you're in a city with so much good food, you have to set your priorities and you always have to know what your next meal is, no matter how much you just ate at In-N-Out.
This meal was kind of a result of the same thing. We ate dinner one night and I immediately said, "So, what's for dinner tomorrow?" We knew we had fresh asparagus that we needed to cook so I jumped
This Creamy Chicken & Asparagus Pasta was the first one I came across and as soon as I read there was bacon involved, we were sold! We already had the chicken, asparagus, pasta, and bacon so this would be an easy meal!
I'd be lying if I said it was easy though. It was very involved and I used every pot and pan we had. Yes, everything on it's own was easy, but there were just a lot of things going on at once. I very rarely ask Zach to clean up after I cook (he's got it made!), but I actually asked him to start washing stuff WHILE I was still cooking. But it was SO worth it! When your
fiance husband tells you it's one of his favorite things you've cooked, you know it's a win.
I actually had him start this meal last night before I got home and the minute I walked in the door, he said, "you can take over now!" But at least the chicken and the bacon were done! I really love this dish a lot. With all the
best ingredients in life cream, cream cheese, bacon and pasta, it's definitely not a healthy option, but definitely one I can stuff my face with get behind every once in a while. Maybe I'll try it with spaghetti squash next time. At least then I'd lose the pasta guilt. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the leftovers (for a few days b/c this makes a TON)!
Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta
(adapted from Cooking Classy)
1 lb boneless, skinless chick breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, plus more for sauce
16 oz penne or bowtie pasta
1 lb asparagus diced into 2-inch pieces and steamed
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cream or half and half
6 oz Neufchatel cheese (aka light cream cheese)
1/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese (plus more for garnishing)
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled into small pieces
In a small bowl, stir together basil, oregano, thyme and salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the herb mixture evenly over the tops of chicken. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken to skillet, herbed side down, then add remaining herb mixture. Cook chicken until fully cooked through, about 8-12 minutes, occasionally rotating chicken. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate, let rest 5 minutes then dice into pieces.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions listed on package, reserving 1 cup pasta water before draining.
In a clean skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minuted, stirring constantly. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer, stirring constantly. While whisking, slowly pour in milk then cream (whisk vigorously to break up any clumps). Season with salt and pepper to taste (a fair amount of each) and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil and thickens, reduce heat to medium-low, add Neufchatel and parmesan cheeses and cook, stirring frequently, until cheeses have melted.
Toss in cooked pasta, then add cooked chicken, steamed asparagus and bacon and toss to evenly coat. Add in reserved pasta water as desired. The pasta will absorb the liquid and then you risk everything being dry. I used almost an entire cup of the past water the second time around, and it was much creamier! You might even need to add a splash of water when heating up leftovers to prevent it from being too dry.
*Tip: The original recipe says the bacon is optional, but we both agreed the bacon added so much flavor. I cooked the bacon in the oven as everything else was cooking. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (seriously, do yourself a favor and do this...you'll already have plenty to clean after this meal). Bake the bacon in the oven until desired crispiness.
It's Thanksgiving week which means we're all getting ready to stuff ourselves in true American fashion. I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday with your family and friends, eating all the best food of the year! Maybe before Christmas I'll write about the Momofuku Carrot Layer Cake I made for Thanksgiving day...maybe.