Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chicken Caesar Pasta

I was working from home the other day, Food Network humming in the background, and I caught the tail end of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals.  By tail end, I mean the last 2 minutes where she puts together her meal presentation and devours it in front of you. 
I love Rachael Ray, but after being on air for 10 years, sometimes she has to get a little creative.  I mean, how many 30 minute meals can one person come up with?  This one was a doozey- Chicken Caesar Pasta.  I am a fairweather salad fan but stick a Caesar Salad in front of me and it will be toast in 30 seconds.  Something to do with the dressing, cheese, and croutons that make it barely resemble a salad....

So, if you take the amazing taste out of the salad and you slather it over some pasta, I can't imagine how this flavor combo could get any better.  I hadn't seen her make it, but I knew it had to be delicious so I found the recipe and whipped it up for dinner this week.

You can find Rachael's (we're on a first name basis) original recipe here.  I have slightly altered it to make it more convenient and slightly lighten it up.

Chicken Caesar Pasta
Makes 4 servings
Start to finish: 30 minutes

2  8oz chicken breasts
8 tsp homemade or store bought pesto

8oz whole wheat spaghetti
9oz fresh spinach
4 anchovies
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup shredded Romano cheese
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup water

I hope you have prepared yourself for an explosion of Caesar flavor, because that is exactly what you'll get by making this recipe.

You have two 8oz chicken breasts in front of you, but this recipe makes 4 servings.  The way we are going to approach this is by pounding out the chicken to a half inch thickness. 
Then slice the breasts in half to make two pieces, for a total of four.
Salt and pepper each side of the chicken breast and then spread one teaspoon of pesto on each side.  Alert your grill master that the chicken is ready and you are done with this portion of the meal (if you lack a grill master these could probably be cooked in a non-stick skillet or baked in the oven, but I have a grill master so I cannot attest to how they turn out). 

Put on a pot of water for the pasta.  Boil til al dente.  Save 1/3 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is thoroughly heated, turn the heat down to medium and add the anchovies.  Cook these until they melt into the oil, which will take a couple minutes.
Side note: I can already hear you saying, "Ew, anchovies."  Stop.  Do not fear anchovies.  If asked, 95% of Americans will say they don't like anchovies.  If you ask them if they like Caesar Salad, 95% of of them will say, "Mmmm I love Caesar salad!"  If I am the one breaking this to you, I am sorry, but that salty deliciousness in Caesar dressing that you can't quite put your finger on is anchovies. So, in the most simplist of explanations...Caesar lovers  =  anchovie lovers.  Do not try to substitute or omit this ingredient.  Just accept that you love anchovies and and move on.
When your anchovies have melted, turn the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and Worcestershire.  Start grabbing spinach by the handfuls and placing them in the skillet.  When they look half wilted (not wilted but HALF wilted) remove the pan from the heat.  The reason why I emphasize half wilted is because they will continue to wilt a little bit after you stop cooking them and I personally don't like overly wilted greens.  They are slimy and well...not green.
Pour the greens into a bowl with your cooked, drained pasta.  Squeeze juice from one lemon over the bowl and set aside. 

Crack open an egg and separate the white from the yolk.  Only the yolk is necessary in this recipe.  Beat it up until it's just a liquid.
In a small bowl whisk in the hot-but-no-longer-boiling-hot water into the egg.  Whisk furociously until the two are intermixed or you will have scrambled eggs.

Stir in the egg mixture with the pasta/greens. 
Add the cheese and toss.
Slice your perfectly grilled chicken breasts on the diagnal and place over an individual serving of pasta.
All hail Caesar.

1 comment:

  1. I am so overwhelmed! I want to make all your recipes like YESTERDAY. I really want to make this - maybe tonight or tomorrow. We have leftovers though that I know we should eat tonight. I think I will make my leftovers and maybe fried green tomatoes... I can't wait! Thanks again!