My Big, Fat, (except not fat because it’s kind of skinny) Greek Pasta
I have been craving pasta lately. Like, when I rack my brain for dinner ideas, all I can think about is pasta. Long noodles, stubby noodles, twisty noodles… it doesn’t matter. Red sauce, white wine, tomato cream, butter, oil… whatever, I’m game.
The good news is that making pasta allows me to clean other, long-forgotten items from the nooks and crannies of my pantry, like half-used boxes of bowtie pasta, dusty bottles of artichoke hearts and cans of tomato paste, and nearly empty tubes of breadcrumbs. (I confessed on Facebook the other day that I actually threw out a box of breadcrumbs that expired in October, 2008. No joke. Lucky for me, my friends had awesome senses of humor in their responses, and I still had another open box for my pasta.)
The bad news is that pasta, especially if it’s exceptionally tasty pasta, isn’t exactly the healthiest of meals. And considering I gained about 5 pounds in Spain, I’m thinking this insatiable pasta craving upon our return must be some cruel, cruel joke.
That, or it’s God’s way of telling me we should’ve tacked on a trip to Italy right after Spain.
Either way, it’s messed up.
So last night I tried to find a way to make the pasta a wee bit healthier, by avoiding things like cream, excessive amounts of butter, cream, and cream.
Of course I had to use some butter, but that’s just responsible cooking. The recipe is for a Greek flavor-inspired pasta dish, and it’s a combination of various recipes I found on Allrecipes.com as well as using a couple of things I had on-hand and tossing ’em in. The result? I thought it was pretty phenomenal. However, I’ll be honest and say that Justin wasn’t quite as enthused, but he a) doesn’t care for tomatoes, and b) still said, “It’s pretty good — you know — for something healthy.”
I think he missed the cream.
This comfortably feeds 2 people with plenty of leftovers. To make it, you will need:
- 8 oz. pasta (Whatever you want — I used bowtie because I had half a box left, but it’d be great with some type of spiral pasta or penne.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 chopped red onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 – 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used 1/2 lb.)
- Splash of white wine
- 1 small jar artichoke hearts, marinated in oil and chopped (Next time I would use 2 jars. You could use the cans of hearts in water, but I think they have more flavor this way. And sometimes, you just don’t substitute health for flavor.)
- 1/2 can diced tomatoes (You could also use a fresh tomato, but again, I was trying to use up stuff in my pantry. If you love tomatoes, go ahead and throw in the whole can. Also, I used about half the water in the can and drained the rest.)
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (Could stand to add a bit more, but I was trying to keep this lighter. The feta melts and gives the dish a really delicious, subtle flavor. It’s not as “bitey” as unmelted feta.)
- ~15 Kalamata olives, chopped and seeds removed (Optional — I had been snacking on these earlier and decided to add them to the pasta. If you use them, go easy on adding any additional salt to the dish because these are salty enough!)
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
Whew. That looks like a lot of ingredients. But I promise you, it’s just a matter of chopping a few things and throwing ’em all in a pot. I tried to take a family portrait, but, as usual, I missed a few members and actually have a couple of extras in there. (Ignore the jars of roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes — I bought those yesterday for another recipe, then forgot what I bought them for, and they somehow ended up in this picture. Oops.)
Okay, so pretend that there’s wine, butter and artichoke hearts in this photo, and that there’s NOT a jar of roasted red peppers and a jar of sundried tomatoes. Thank you.
Oh, and every single photo in this post is blurry because I had the aperture set too wide. Or maybe I had the shakes. You know, because I hadn’t had my pasta yet.
Here’s the jar of artichoke hearts. Cheeky bugger.
1. Get a large pot of salted water boiling on the stove, and cook your 8 oz. of pasta according to the package directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, chop up your onion and garlic. Melt your butter and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and toss in the garlic and onion for around 2 minutes.
Melt butter and heat oil.
Let red onion and garlic cook for around 2 minutes.
3. Chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss that into the pan. Let the chicken cook for 5-6 minutes, until it’s no longer pink and the juices run clear.
4. Now. At this point, I felt like the pan could use a little deglazing, which is fancy cooking speech for using some kind of liquid to get all the brown crusties off the bottom of the pan.
See the crusties?
So I took my glass of wine and poured some in.
Which is actually kind of difficult to do. If you try this, I’d go straight from the bottle. And I probably wouldn’t try to take a picture at the same time. Because it might look something like this:
The picture is awful, but the wine did the trick.
5. Then throw in everything else: chopped artichoke hearts, feta cheese, diced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, chopped parsley, dried oregano, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Remember, if you’re using the olives, go easy on the salt!
Stir it all around until the cheese melts completely. Then throw in your cooked and drained pasta. If it seems kind of dry, add some of the liquids from your can of diced tomatoes. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, add more lemon juice. Or wine. Or water from the pasta. Whatever your little heart desires.
But, it’s important to note that this isn’t a particularly saucy pasta recipe. There should be a light coating of moisture on your pasta, but no excess sauce, per se.
I don’t want to say this is a girly pasta, but yeah. It’s kind of girly. I suppose because it’s not… hearty? It’s fresh. It tastes light. It goes excellent with a glass of white wine.
And if manly men know what’s good for them, they’ll like it too.
Every bite is like a different medley of flavors. In some, you taste the rich feta. In others, the tangy artichoke. Sometimes salty olives. Sometimes savory chicken.
It’s pretty much fantastic because it doesn’t get boring. And, you know, it’s not bad… for something healthy. ish.
Yum! That looks so good! I love cooking with wine, and I think those lighter sauces are just right for summer. Thanks for sharing.
I love cooking with wine, too. And sometimes I even use it in the food. :)
This looks UBER delicious!!! I particularly enjoyed the pouring-wine-from-your-own-glass-into-the-meal photo / idea. Very philanthropic! Loved this :-)
Looks awesome as usual. I much admit though I have never had artichoke hearts before …..
err must admit ……
They are sooo good! Although I’d recommend eating one fresh from an artichoke for your first experience rather than the ones in the jar.
Your chunks of raw chicken look like little pieces of chewy toffee to me.
Mmmm, chewy toffee….
Salmonella-filled chewy toffee….