Saturday, July 12, 2008

Suzi Homemaker goes organic--Fresh Basil and Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Onions

My hubby, Steve, and I joined a Community Supported Agriculture program this year where we pay a fee to a local farm and then we receive seasonal offerings weekly from May through October. Our farm is Redbud Farm located in neighboring Inwood, WV.

Once a week, I pack the kiddos in the car and scoot to the host family's home (they graciously allow their porch to be the pick up site for all members). The kids are always excited to see the bounty we receive and take turns carrying our bag of produce from the porch to the car and then from car to house. It's like a veggie Christmas every week--I never know what to expect. One week we got these tiny cabbage-like bulbs that turned out to be kohlrabi--something I have never tried (and, I must admit, I still haven't tried--I left them in the vegetable bin in the fridge and they got a bit soft before I was able to use them. One recipe I read said to grate the kohlrabi over coleslaw and by the time I made coleslaw, the little things were too far gone).

Since that loss, I have been better at using the produce before it expires. The past two weeks we have received baby cabbage, fresh garlic, Walla Walla onions, new potatoes and bunches of fresh basil.

Here is a dish I concocted using most of those ingredients. (Please bear in mind that I am a very experimental chef and my measurements consist of a pour of this, a handful of that....tasting as you go is a necessity!)

I'm going to call this Fresh Basil and Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Onions

1. Saute minced garlic and diced onions in two tablespoons olive oil in a pan until soft. Add about a pound and a half of sliced chicken breast. Cook until chicken is brown and tender. Add some chopped basil, simmer a bit and set aside.

2. Cook one package of penne or rotini pasta (I use whole grain) according to package directions and set aside.

3. In another pan, saute minced garlic and onion (sliced lengthwise) in about two tablespoons olive oil until soft. Add about 12 roma tomatoes (sliced lengthwise). Add a dash of sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tomatoes are soft and begin to create a nice sauce (forgive my freshman culinary terms). Add a handful of chopped basil and cook about a minute more. Add fresh sliced mushrooms and cook for about three minutes until mushrooms are soft (my Mom will want to eliminate this step as she has a strong dislike for eating fungi). Slice cooked corn fresh from the cob and add to sauce. Cook about a minute more until corn is heated through. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper and then pour mixture over chicken and set aside.

4. In same pan, melt one stick of butter (no one said this was a fat-free meal--just do about a hundred more squats than usual and you'll be good). Add about 3/4 of a cup of grated parmesan cheese and about a cup of half and half. Stir constantly until smooth. Pour over pasta. Add chicken and tomato mixture to pasta and toss.

5. Serve immediately with fresh basil garnish and shredded parmesan cheese. Especially good with a glass of ice cold Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.


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