We’ve finally been graced with warmer temps here in New York, and the change in seasons (no matter the time of year) always makes me want to cook. Last weekend, we spent much of Sunday out on our little terrace, admiring new herbs we planted and just enjoying the sunshine. Leisurely days like that call for light, satisfying meals that don’t skimp on color or flavor. I was inspired to put together my own take on pasta primavera to celebrate the sunshine — and trust me when I say, it’s a dish you will return to throughout the summer too.
How does this sound: chicken, lightly braised in white wine, with a hearty vegetable mix of broccolini, baby greens, sun dried tomatoes, grape tomatoes, onions, and yellow pepper, all finished off with a splash of cream and lots of fresh lemon juice, then tossed together with pasta and parmesan cheese. Yeah, it was really good. Like a lot of my recipes, this one is totally customizable to what you have on hand. I prefer it with a long noodle like linguine, fettucine, spaghetti, or even bucatini (which I used here), but you can use a short tubular pasta too. Whatever you have, really! Ditto for the vegetables. And, while I like to cook with chicken thighs because of their flavor, you can certainly use white meat too.
This would make an easy meal to entertain with during spring and summer. Just add a basic green salad, a couple bottles of white wine, and you’re good to go! Here’s how I made it:
Chicken Pasta Primavera
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 small yellow onion, peeled and medium diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored and diced
1 cup whole grape tomatoes, cut into halves
1/2 bunch broccolini, rinsed and chopped into 1.5″ pieces
6-7 sun dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil), chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb pasta of your choice
2-3 oz of baby greens, like arugula, spinach or baby kale (about 1/2 of a plastic clamshell)
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
— kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
— parmesan cheese for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season heavily with salt, and cover.
Select a large saute pan — you want it to be large enough to fit all the ingredients, including the cooked pasta. Heat the olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken very well with salt and pepper, then add the meat to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until the meat has browned. It’s ok if it’s not cooked all the way through. Remove the browned meat to a plate and set aside.
Add in all the vegetables except the greens (the onion, pepper, both tomatoes, the broccolini) and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Pour in the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Add back the chicken thighs along with any accumulated juice on the plate, and nestle them in the liquid. Cook for approximately 10 minutes (or longer, if needed), until the chicken cooks through and the veggies break down further. The liquid should reduce beautifully and form a nice sauce. Taste, and check for seasoning; add salt and pepper as needed. Reduce heat to medium low, so that the mixture gently bubbles, but doesn’t vigorously boil.
Once the chicken is nearly done, cook the pasta in the boiling water, subtracting a minute from the cooking time. Right before the pasta is finished cooking, remove the chicken thighs from the sauce, and roughly dice them into large pieces. Add back into the sauce. Then, using tongs or a spider, transfer the cooked pasta into the saute pan and toss with the meat, veggies, and sauce. Add in the greens, the lemon juice, and the cream, and continue to toss. If it looks like you need more liquid, spoon some of the pasta cooking liquid in too — it’ll loosen up the sauce and give it more body. Cook the pasta for another minute or two, until it has absorbed a lot of the sauce and the ingredients are well distributed throughout the noodles.
Serve the pasta with a little garnish of parmesan cheese, and enjoy…even al fresco, if you can!
Images by Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese