Chicken and Asparagus Risotto Style Pasta

Chicken and Asparagus Risotto Style Pasta

Saturday was a day of extremes. The boy woke the girl or the girl woke the boy – they never let the other sleep and as for their parents, well, forget it. It was an even earlier morning than usual, all of us up before 6 a.m. Which explains, I guess, why by the time we were trying to get out the door to go grocery shopping at 10:30 (yes, it takes more than four hours to get up, have breakfast, get dressed, you know the drill) Esme was an uncontrollable beast. There were tears over which shoes she would wear, whether she would pee before leaving the house, a time out for rudeness. Ben offered to do the groceries alone. Naturally, I saw right through his ploy to ditch his whining, whinging family and said absolutely not. There were huffy sighs exchanged. And all witnessed by our lovely and bemused cleaning lady, Maria.

Our weekly grocery trip is always a bit of a schmozzle but somehow I love it. For now it’s one of the few activities for all four of us. It was Julian’s first time out of the Bjorn and in the little seat of the cart. He was ecstatic by this new perspective. We go to the amazing Fiesta Farms and good local vegetables are just starting to appear – it’s nice not to have to buy from Argentina, Chile, Mexico or the U.S., right? I’ve been on an asparagus bender and we picked up some more. That settled it, I’d try the crazy absorption pasta I’d been reading about.

Do you know about this? Cooking pasta in the style of risotto? I’d never heard of it but was ultimately sold on the notion of a one pot dinner. There’s a good recipe on Design Sponge but I’ve based mine on New York Times writer, Mark Bittman’s recipe. I think you could make this pasta as many ways as you can make risotto.

Chicken and Asparagus "Risotto Style" Pasta

Ingredients

  • A good glug of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 good sized shallot or a small onion chopped
  • 2 cups of cremini mushrooms cleaned and sliced
  • 3/4 lb penne
  • 1/4 cup white wine optional - we didn't have any white so I skipped it, just add it a bit more stock
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 boneless chicken thighs diced
  • 10 spears of asparagus cleaned, trimmed and chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Pour a good glug of olive oil in either a stock pot or a high sided pan.

When it's warm, add the shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Let them soften and just start to brown over medium heat - about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the pasta and stir until coated in oil and cook for a couple of minutes.

Next add the wine if you're using it. Allow the wine to bubble and absorb

Now start adding stock about a half cup at a time in the same way you would if making a risotto.

Keep stirring and allow each batch of stock to absorb before adding the next.

This will take about fifteen or twenty minutes.

Once you've put in the third cup start tasting. You want the pasta to be soft but not completely cooked.

Add the chicken and stir well, cook for another five minutes

Add the asparagus and stir

Let simmer until chicken is cooked through

Check the pasta for al dente texture and when the pasta is done, add the parmesan and lemon.

You can add a bit more stock here to loosen things up.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.


 

Have you seen these things? It’s called a Nuby and you put banana or whatever kind of fruit you like I guess in the fine mesh bag, snap it on the handle and hand it to your baby. Much less messy than just handing over a snack and no fear of choking. My cousin Shelley sent this to me recently and I love it! It keeps Julian happy while I’m cooking for minutes and minutes….

So delish! It’s a very savoury dish because you’re cooking the noodles in stock and the texture is creamy rather than starchy as you might think.

After a short nap and a trip to the pool with her dad, Esme did the kind of personality transformation particular to three year olds. She shared toys with her brother, she complimented dinner, she ate her dinner. Julian happily sucked the life out of several pieces of asparagus. He looks like he’s smoking a cigar and it always makes us laugh. Just a happy family, eating dinner out on the deck on a warm spring evening.

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7 Comments

  1. Meredyth Young
    May 03, 16:35 Reply

    OH YUM! I am making this dish tomorrow evening.
    Don't you just love Fiesta Farms! Can't wait to try it out. Thanks Ceri.

  2. heidi_pyper
    May 03, 19:46 Reply

    Sounds amazing! I have never heard of anything like this – very cool. Now, I'm I have a list of things that I have to cook.

  3. Ceri
    May 04, 01:07 Reply

    Let me know if you like it! I think you could change it up depending on what's in the fridge, you know?

  4. Anonymous
    May 05, 20:42 Reply

    What a great blog, Ceri! My aunt sent me the Babycook and it's been super handy. The Williams-Sonoma baby Cookbook is quite good too. Hoorah for Sweetpea too! Iole has a wonderful appetite. Some days I wonder how this sweet girl is grinning at the thought of a mashed courgette! She loves that mesh basket too. I pop a carrot in and it entertains her for ages. Great when we're out to lunch. Looking forward to trying your recipes. Athena

  5. Lesa
    May 13, 02:58 Reply

    Um, that picture of Esme standing in the doorway is the best.

  6. Amy
    May 04, 21:09 Reply

    I loved those Nuby things too! Total lifesaver. I now give one to every expectant mother I know.

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