I need to readjust what I cook, because I need recipes that I can have on the table in 45 minutes, or less. Ideally, the meal won't take a lot of prep work and (if I'm lucky) I'll have leftovers to take for lunch the next day-- hence, more time in the morning to get ready to leave for work after dragging myself out of bed at the evil hour of 5:00am.
Before I discovered the world of Food Blogs, I used to buy quite a few cookbooks. One of my purchases came from America's Test Kitchen-- "Test Kitchen Favorites" from the Season 2007, with a DVD of all the shows included. I have to say that I enjoyed the cookbook and DVD-- and I think these would be a perfect gift for someone who wants to learn (or improve) their culinary skills.
I give thumbs up to many of the recipes in this cookbook-- they have never failed to deliver delicious meals. This skillet dinner is one of them. HOWEVER, the prep time took about 20 minutes to put together. I'm pretty skilled with a knife, so if someone is just learning how to chop, chop, chop-- then I'd say prep work can take at least 30 minutes. The plus side, though, is that once the dinner is underway in cooking, you can tidy up the kitchen.
Enough said-- on with the recipe:
You'll need boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch squares, sun-dried tomatoes, minced garlic, dried oregano (fresh is okay, too), red pepper flakes, chicken broth, broccoli, heavy cream (you could substitute half & half, I suppose but I haven't tested that theory), ziti (I used farfalle, because it's what I had), water, Asiago cheese (I only had Parmesan), and fresh lemon juice. I recommend that you do your mis en place ("mess in place"). Once your have all of your ingredients organized, the cooking part goes fast. Ready?
You'll use olive oil and you want to quickly sear the chicken. Be sure the chicken is patted nice and dry, or you'll just end up steaming the chicken. This takes 2 minutes, max. Set it aside in a bowl...
The nice brown bits from searing the chicken will give the chopped onion and garlic a nice flavor and a pretty golden brown... now it's time to cook the pasta...
Since this is a "skillet dinner", you'll be cooking the pasta in the skillet with chicken with water and chicken broth. Once the pasta water looks "syrupy" it's time to add the sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli and a little more water. The Asiago or Parmesan cheese and lemon juice are on standby...
Put the lid on and let this cook for 3-5 minutes-- just until the broccoli is tender and a pretty bright green.
Now, add the chicken and accumulated juices, the heavy cream and the cheese. Allow this to cook a few minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. This dish smells fragrantly delicious.
Off heat, add the lemon juice and season to taste with kosher (or sea salt) and pepper. As far as I'm concerned, this is far better than "Hamburger Helper"-- by a long shot.
This might not be a 30-Minute meal, but it's very tasty. It reheats well and you could even freeze leftovers for a fast "I'm too tired to cook, what can I defrost?" kind of meal.
I have a feeling I'll be making a few of those when the first day of school starts, in a week's time-- it's the most hectic time of year at my job! But, I love the high school kids and I cannot say that my job is boring at all.
A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.