One of the best things about having posted nearly 1000 (!!!) unique recipes in the past four and a half years is that I'm constantly coming across things that we loved that I haven't made for a really long time. This is one of those meals. Since today is National Pasta Day, it seems like the perfect day to revisit one of the best pastas I've ever made.
There is nothing complicated about this pasta; it's actually one of the simplest pastas I've ever made, but the flavor is just so phenomenal. Garlic, cream, parmesan cheese and a hint of nutmeg make a truly luxurious sauce for the pasta. I made a few changes to the recipe this time around: I used minced garlic rather than garlic powder, I chose a short pasta with lines to soak up the sauce, and I topped the pasta with slices of pan-roasted chicken. My changes just served to make this taste even better, and this is surely a meal that I'll make for my family over and over again.
Creamy Spinach Parmesan Pasta with Chicken
adapted from On Top of Spaghetti... by Johanne Killeen and George Germon
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 pound penne pasta
8 cups firmly packed baby spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
1. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, turning once, until cooked through. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Stir in a generous amount of salt and drop in the pasta. After a minute or two, add the spinach a handful at a time so the water doesn't lose its boil at any time. Cook, stirring often, until al dente.
3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cream, nutmeg, and white pepper. Bring it to a boil, but don't let it reduce. Add salt to taste.
4. Drain the pasta and spinach in a collander, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Over low heat, stir the pasta into the cream mixture along with most of the parmesan cheese (save the rest for passing at the table or garnishing). If the noodles absorb too much cream, add pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, until you have the consistency of heavy cream, with each serving having a puddle in the bottom of the bowl.
5. Slice chicken and portion onto each individual serving. Serve immediately.