CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Cheesy Chicken And Broccoli Pasta

Pasta and broccoli is a winning combination. And no matter what you complement those two with, the outcome is sure to be a palate pleaser.

I have several favorite recipes that feature broccoli and pasta. One is Broccoli with Rigatoni, which comes from a cookbook by the late Dom DeLuise, “Eat This … It’ll Make You Feel Better!” DeLuise describes broccoli and rigatoni as “a combination made in heaven.” (Grated cheese, garlic and some fresh basil and parsley round out the ingredients for the recipe.)

Another is Mediterranean Shrimp Medley, from the “Seafood Lover’s Bible” by Michael Bavota. Besides broccoli and angel hair pasta, the entree contains shrimp, scallions and white clam sauce. Truly scrumptious!

Recently, I came across another pasta-broccoli recipe. Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta was shared on Facebook by friend Sara Lovejoy. As its title discloses, the dish contains cheese. But you can’t forget the  onion, garlic and spices.

Each one of these entrees also is a one-pot dish, which will make them appealing to more than your taste buds.

Cheesy Chicken And Broccoli Pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces (can substitute pheasant)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup diced yellow onion (about half an onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1 16-ounce bag of pasta of your choice
4 cups broccoli (or one head of broccoli)
½ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pot. Add chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, and allow the chicken to brown on one side.
Flip chicken, then add onions and garlic as the second side browns. Once the chicken has browned on both sides, add chicken broth, water, and pasta to the pot.
Stir all ingredients, cover the pot with a lid, and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, uncover and stir. Bring the heat to low, stir, then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, uncover and add in the broccoli. Stir continually as the broccoli steams until the rest of the liquid evaporates. Add milk and cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese melts and you have a smooth cheese sauce. Add salt and pepper (to taste), cayenne, and nutmeg. Stir once more then serve.
Yield: Serve 6 to 8.

Broccoli with Rigatoni
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch broccoli, separated into florets (reserve stems for another use)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 pound rigatoni
Fresh parsley, chopped
Grated cheese
In a large skillet, heat oil and butter and gently brown the garlic. Add broccoli and stir gently until pan gets very hot.
Add chicken broth, cover, and simmer just until broccoli is al dente.
Add half the fresh basil and the drained hot rigatoni, cooked al dente, to the skillet and mix thoroughly. Put on a hot serving dish and sprinkle with parsley, pepper, grated cheese and remaining basil.
Yield: Serves 4.

Mediterranean Shrimp Medley
1 pound any size shell-on shrimp
½ pound angel hair pasta
1 stalk broccoli
½ bunch scallions
1 10½-ounce can white clam sauce
Peel, devein and rinse shrimp. Cook pasta in boiling water, following directions on the box. Rinse pasta with cold water and set aside. In a medium saucepan, boil shrimp for only 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Cut broccoli and scallions into small bite-size pieces and boil until colors turn vivid green. Remove from heat and drain. In a large skillet, heat clam sauce and vegetables for 4 minutes at medium heat. Place pasta in shallow bowls, spoon clam and vegetable mixture over pasta, and garnish with cooked shrimp.
Yield: Serves 2 to 4.

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