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.