Friday, March 6, 2009

Pasta With Light Bleu Cheese Sauce

Pasta With Light Bleu Cheese Sauce
From: WhyNot

I "invented" (as in, I'm sure it's just a version of a dish that I don't know the name of) this last night. One of those "pantry" meals whipped up with stuff I had on hand before Grocery Day came around again. I suppose if one wanted to be authentically "Italian", they'd use Gorgonzola, but I had about 1/3 cup of leftover bleu cheese/cream cheese/sour cream mush that I stuffed into tomatoes on Oscar night, and a container of bleu cheese crumbles, and that inspired me to come up with this dish:

Serves: 6
prep time:5 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes

1 box pasta, cooked and drained as usual. I used farfalle, but shells or tubes would work - the strand pastas like spaghetti or linguine might not have enough surface area to hold the fairly thin sauce.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth (I use 2 cups water and 2 tsp Better than Bouillon)
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese or neufchatel cheese. You could use regular, of course, if you have the metabolism of a jackrabbit! I don't.
3 ounces bleu cheese crumbles - amt approximate, I'm really not sure how much I used, adjust to your taste
2 teaspoons (ish) Lemon pepper seasoning
undetermined amount of dried parsley. It's only there for looks, folks!
2 Tablespoons (ish) sour cream (optional)
2 fresh tomatoes, diced. Don't bother seeding 'em.
Extra bleu cheese crumbles for serving

While the pasta's cooking, brown the chicken pieces in the olive oil over me-high heat. They will leave brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. This is a good thing, trust me. (The French chefs call these bits "fond".)

When the chicken is cooked, add the garlic. Cook about 20 seconds, just long enough to release the flavors of the garlic without burning it.

Add the chicken broth (watch out! It'll go WOOSH on you!) and "scrub" the browned chicken bits off the bottom of the pan with your spoon. The chicken broth will make them release, I promise. (This is called "deglazing the pan", by the way.)

Turn the heat down to med-low and add the cream cheese and bleu cheese crumbles. Stir, letting the cheese melt.

When the cheese is melted, add the lemon pepper and stir to combine. Add parsley until it looks like you've spent hours slaving over this dish. (I love dried parsley - it has almost no flavor, but it makes things look more complex than they are.)

Turn off the heat and add sour cream and tomatoes. Stir to incorporate, but you're not trying to cook the tomatoes here. The sauce will be pretty thin, that's okay.

Toss the pasta in the sauce, and serve with a little extra bleu cheese crumbles on the top.

This sauce is also all kinds of awesome on cauliflower.
The dish would also be good with shrimp or even well pressed firm tofu instead of chicken.

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