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Lucca Pasta

September 14, 2010

Photo by Gerik

“Dinner at Mom’s” is a new tradition for our family. Our move to Missouri was the first time we’d been with-in walking distance of our son and his family since the 1980’s. Now instead of phone calls and the occasional visits we are blessed with the in-person hugs and giggles of grandchildren and special Monday night dinners with all of us gathered around the table. It’s so dear to my heart.

Tonight we are dining on Lucca Pasta which is a recipe I worked on for the college dining room and catering menus. Chock full of fresh garden produce, a cream sauce to provide richness and well seasoned vegetarian chicken makes this dish a great choice for the end of summer. This past Monday, I served it to the family with a fresh baby greens salad, sliced pears and rosemary roasted pecans which was topped with a sweet balsamic vinaigrette and feta cheese.

Oh, and toasty, fresh garlic bread to go along side.

Nothing beats fresh greens from the garden but a close second is picking them up on a visit to the farmer’s market. Don’t be afraid to try different veggies and enjoy the last of the summer produce in this wonderful cream pasta.

Lucca Pasta

Photo by Pat

Serves 6

2 packages frozen Meal Starters Chicken Strips by Morningstar Farms, thawed (roasted or
poached chicken breasts, sliced also works)
2 T. Olive Oil
2 T. Instant Vegetarian Chicken (or Vegetable) Broth or Seasoning (use dry)
1/2 Red (or Yellow) Onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. fresh Green Beans, or Asparagus, cooked tender crisp
1 Red Pepper, sliced
Optional items 1 pkg. sliced mushrooms, sauteed, or garden peas
2 T. Butter
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 T. Instant Vegetarian Chicken (or Vegetable) Broth or Seasoning (use dry)
8 oz. Penne Pasta, Cooked
1/2 cup sliced Fresh Basil
Parmesan Cheese

Cut and prepare the ingredients as listed before starting this pasta dish.

Cook the pasta according the the directions given on the box. Drain but do not rinse. Keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over med. high heat. Add the vegetarian chicken and begin stir frying. Sprinkle the chicken with the instant chicken broth/seasoning to heighten the flavor of the chicken. (If using real chicken, skip this part and add the warm chicken strips to the pasta and sauce toward the end) Stir fry the chicken until the chicken has browned on all sides. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.

In the skillet, add the butter. When melted, stir in the onion, red pepper slices and green beans. Toss to coat and warm the veggies, about 2-5 minutes. Remove to plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and gently fry a bit but don’t let them brown. Pour in the whipping cream and additional Instant Chicken Seasoning. Over med. heat, let the whipping cream mixture simmer until it becomes condensed into a sauce which takes about 8 minutes. Add in the chicken, vegetables and cooked pasta.

Toss in the sliced basil and pour into a large pasta bowl. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese.

Baby Green Salad with Pears and Rosemary Pecans

1 Bag or Box of Baby Greens (I prefer Sweet Baby Greens)
1 ripe Pear, sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
1/2 cup Roasted Rosemary Pecans
Balsamic Dressing

Roasted Rosemary Pecans

4 cups Pecan halves

6 T Butter

1 T dried Rosemary

1 T.  Salt

1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Melt butter and add the rest of the ingredients mixing well with a wooden spoon.  Pour out onto a cookie sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Store in an air tight container and use as needed.

Balsamic Dressing

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 T. balsamic vinegar

2 T. sugar

Place ingredients in a jar and shake well before pouring over the salad.

Salad Assembly Instructions:

Place greens in a bowl and top with dried cranberries, sliced pear, feta cheese and pecans.  Pour dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

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