Adventures in Eating: Penne Pasta with Chicken & Mushrooms

When I was a little girl, “pasta” meant spaghetti doused with taste­less bright red tomato sauce and sprinkled with some-kind-of-awful, artificial-tasting parmesan cheese. “Pasta” really wasn’t high on my list of childhood favorites.

Years later, friends would rave about this fusilli or that pené, and I would simply tune them out. When I finally came to my senses and decided to stretch my taste-buds, I was quite surprised. Pasta had certainly come a long way.

A myriad of wonderful import­ed Italian products now fill the shelves: sun-dried tomatoes, roast­ed peppers, dried wild mushrooms and outrageous olives. Olive oils have also become the rage. One practically needs a degree in oils to figure out the difference between all the varieties! There’s also an abundance of fresh herbs like ba­sil, Italian parsley and sorrel.

With the availability of all these fine products, I have become a pasta “groupie” and am constantly testing out new favorites. This month I have created an exquisite pasta dish that I am quite proud of.

For best taste choose a good brand of pasta imported from Italy. Cook it until just al dente, which means “firm to the bite” in Italian. For maximum flavor, indulge yourself to a wedge of fresh parmesan cheese for grating right before serving. Buon Apetito! 

Penné Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms

2 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cut into small bite-sized pieces

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

12 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons sweet butter

3/4 cup green olives, chopped

16 oz. Penné pasta

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt to taste

Sauté chicken and garlic in ol­ive oil until just cooked, adding salt to taste. Remove chicken to a platter and cover with foil. In re­maining oil left in pan sauté mush­rooms until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine and deglaze pan. Sim­mer until reduced to about 2 table­spoons. Add chicken broth and simmer until thick and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Add butter and stir until smooth. Add reserved chick­en and olives and cover to keep warm. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and toss with sauce. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.

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