I’m pleased to report that the skies are blue here in Suburbia, both literally and figuratively today. After one of the worst work weeks I’ve had in a long time, I arrived at the office to find that my one big time commitment of the day–a weekly meeting that typically lasts around two hours–had been cancelled. Amazingly, I now had a full day in the office to actually do some work. I’d almost forgotten what that was like.
So, I finished several projects, caught up on my email, returned phone calls, and felt generally productive. It’s a good thing, considering that I only have a few hours in the office tomorrow morning before I host a team from New Zealand that’s visiting All-American Public Schools for the afternoon. And, as soon as I’m finished with that, I’ll be leaving town again for a meeting followed by another presentation on Friday.
But, I’m trying not to think about all that right now or at least limit my thoughts to what I’m going to wear since I need to pack soon. Instead, I decided to shock my family and actually prepare a home cooked meal for dinner. I decided on grilled chicken breasts, asparagus and pecan penne pasta, and garlic toast on asiago cheese bread. Very yummy!
For the chicken breasts, I just seasoned with Emeril’s seasoning mix then threw them in to marinate with some lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs. Adventure Guy grilled them while I made the pasta, which is one of my favorite spring and ummer recipes, but it’s been out of rotation around here for some reason. Try it you’ll be glad you did.
Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Toasted Pecans
- 1 (16-ounce) package penne pasta
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus (about 1 pound)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and divided
- Garnishes: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper
Prepare pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain.
Snap off tough ends of asparagus, and cut into 2-inch pieces.
Sauté asparagus in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 4 minutes. Stir in red bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Stir in salt, pepperm and basil.
Toss together pasta, asparagus mixture, basil, 1/2 cup cheese, butter, and 1/2 cup pecans. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 cup pecans. Garnish, if desired.
The key to this recipe is not to drain the chicken broth from the asparagus mixuture. After combining all the ingredients, the broth and cheese make a nice sauce. Substituting vegetable broth makes this a hit with vegetarians as well. The pasta can be a meal in itself or a side dish, and it reheats well.