For the rainiest Monday, if you're in this part of the country.
How was your weekend? Are you in hurricane central? Are you OK? Did you have gorgeous almost-fall weather? We were right on the edge with a gorgeous weekend ending with tons of wind and feeling ominous yesterday. We managed to get some great outdoor time in, hang with some toddlers, and generally enjoy ourselves before an insane week starts up. Beck is doing some exciting teething that involves tantrums and medicine and naps on our chests, which we love and hate and love, but we are muddling through.
We are muddling through with THIS. One of our new favorite weeknight dishes, and really it can be two meals - chicken and pasta. Together, they're delicious with creamy pasta and spicy chicken. I first made the pasta on its own and we loved it, the sauce comes together super quickly with no roux or whisking, just heating some milk and melting cheddar right into the cooked pasta. The broccoli (or broccolini!) is roasted in the oven while you work on the pasta and chicken. The downfall there is that there are a few dishes to this meal, but all of the components are super simple and the end result is delicious.
For organizing the timeline, I usually make the blackening seasoning and start cooking the chicken, then put the broccolini in the oven while pasta water is boiling. Then I boil the pasta, make the sauce in the same pan, and everything is done in abouuuuuut 40 minutes, give or take. The chicken takes a little bit of time to cook because we cook it on medium heat, so you can preheat the oven for the broccoli, start bringing a pot of water to boil for the pasta, then gather your spices! I use large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 for four portions), and the seasoning is chili powder, seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
Mix the spices with your fingers, then sprinkle it liberally all over the chicken. You might not use all of the seasoning, but be generous! It is SO good. Let the chicken rest while you preheat a skillet to medium heat with some olive oil.
When the skillet is hot, add the chicken and let it sit and cook for 15-20 minutes to develop a nice crust and cook through slowly. These pieces of chicken were 1 ½ to 2 inches thick and took a little less than 30 minutes total, cooking low and slow while I made the pasta. The idea is to not burn the spices before the meat cooks all the way through. Blackened doesn't mean...cremated.
While the chicken is working, start a pot of water for the pasta, preheat the oven to 400F (if you haven't already), and gather the pasta ingredients. Short pasta! Any kind you like. A bunch of broccolini or broccoli, sharp white cheddar, a green onion, one garlic clove, heavy cream, and butter. Not low carb. Not low fat. Not mad about it.
First, start the broccoli. Cut it into chunks, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt.
Roast the broccolini for 15-20 minutes until the stalks are soft and the florets are slightly dark at the edges, then remove the broccoli from the oven until you are ready to assemble the dish.
When the water for the pasta boils, cook it according to the package directions. Right before draining it, reserve a cup or so of the cooking water to make the sauce for the pasta. Then, grate the cheese, mince the garlic, and slice the onion. All of the prep can happen for this dish while the chicken/veg/pasta works since all three of those components have a good amount of downtime. When the pasta has drained, put the pot back on the stove and add the garlic and the butter over medium heat.
Let the garlic cook for one minute, then add the pasta, broccolini, green onion, cream, and grated cheese to the pot. Drizzle in about half a cup of the cooking water, and stir quickly to help everything come together and form a sauce.
As you work, splash in a little bit more of the pasta water and taste for seasoning - add a few more pinches of salt and pepper until the dish tastes great!
Now, when the chicken is done (before this point, probably), take it out of the skillet and let it rest for just a minute, then slice it for serving.
And, done. I know this seems like a lot, but 1. it's not, 2. it's easy, and 3. it's worth it. Waiting for broccoli to roast isn't hard, waiting for pasta to cook isn't hard, and waiting for chicken to cook is similarly simple. The key is to stir quickly at the end, toss everything on a plate, and you're good to go!
This is a PERFECT dinner for vegetarians and meat eaters because the pasta alone is so hearty and delicious.
The chicken on top is a spicy complement to the dish for added protein, and dinner is served. Happy Monday!
Quick Broccoli Cheddar Pasta with Blackened Chicken
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 ½ inches thick at the widest part
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- oil for cooking
Broccoli Cheddar Pasta
- 1 bunch broccoli or broccoli cut into bite-sized pices
- oil for drizzling
- salt and pepper
- 8 ounces short-cut pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 scallion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 5 ounces very sharp cheddar cheese grated
- lemon wedges for serving
- Gently combine all of the spices together in a small dish. Sprinkle the chicken liberally on both sides with the spice mixture. You might have a little left, but be generous with the spices!
- Heat a skillet over medium heat with some oil. Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes on the first side until the chicken is cooking up the sides and is very browned, then flip and cook for 10 minutes more or until the chicken has cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
- Preheat the oven to 400F and bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Arrange the broccolini (or broccoli) in one layer on a small baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast the broccoli for 15-20 minutes until soft and browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente. Right before draining, reserve about a cup of the cooking water.
- When the pasta has cooked, add the butter and the minced garlic to the same post used to cook the pasta over medium heat. Let the garlic cook for one minute, then add the pasta, heavy cream, roasted broccoli, scallion, cheese, and half a cup of the pasta water to the pot. Stir vigorously to melt the cheese and form a sauce. Taste the pasta and add salt and pepper to your preference. Stir in a little bit more pasta water if needed to create a sauce that covers the pasta.
- Serve the pasta with lemon wedges topped with the sliced chicken. Enjoy!