Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lemon Angel Hair with Chicken and Spinach


So, I admit it: I am a picky eater. I hate that I am a picky eater! Anytime I can get anything green into my system, I do. Baby spinach in pasta makes me happy. In fact, I am smiling right now in spite of myself!

This recipe is like Heaven in your mouth. It makes you want to hug yourself.

When you eat in a resteraunt, are there certain dishes that make you think to yourself, "This dish is something that can only be made in a restaurant. There is some kind of super secret that keeps me from ever being able to make this at home."? Anybody? There are several dishes like that for me. I love shrimp portofino from Macaroni Grill. It is one of those dishes that I used to think is only a restaurant dish. This dish reminds me of that one, but it is better. 

I have learned that the key to so very many recipes is very simple: heavy cream. If you want to eat light, half and half will work, but that is as "light concious" as I will allow. Heavy cream/half and half is just the right thing to do, as is real olive oil....and real butter....and this could go on for days if I let it...

This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray's Lemon Spaghetti with a couple of welcome additions:


Step One: Make  Perfect Chicken. Follow the link to get directions. It is SUPER EASY. :)
Step Two: Cook angel hair pasta in a boiling pot of well-salted water. Do the rest of the steps while this cooks.

This picture is actually misleading. Nearly everytime I make this (and really any pasta dish), the pasta cooks too quickly. If this happens to you, just take the pot off the heat, but leave the pasta in the hot water. The pasta will continue to cook, just at a slower pace which is what is happening in the picture.

I actually do not like my pasta al dente. I like squishy pasta, but you cook it however you like! When you are ready for your pasta in step 9, drain your pasta well. Wait until that step because you will need some of the cooking water!


Step Three: Zest two lemons, and then cut them in half.

If you cut them in half first, they will be difficult to zest, you will get juice all over yourself and everything else, and then you won't have any juice for the recipe.

I promise that I am totally not speaking from experience. Really.
Step Four: Juice the lemons.

This picture has a lot of yellow. Yellow is such a happy color. That makes me think of You've Got Mail when she says, "Don't you think that daisies are the happiest flower?" :) Moving on...





Step Five: Chop garlic. It is supposed to be minced, but like I have said before, my knife is from circa 1985. Chopping is as good as it gets, and I do not mind. I like garlic.





Step Six: Pour your olive oil into a pan, and then add garlic and crushed red pepper. Heat the pan over low to med-low heat.

Actually, since my stove is eleven years old and the burners only work as well as they want, I usually heat mine on medium heat until it starts to sizzle...which takes a while...



Ok, I am really showing this photo more for a laugh than anything else. You are supposed to measure out 3/4 c. half-and-half. Look at my awesome measuring skills...hahahaha. Anyway...

I like to have everything chopped and measured before I get started...or while the stove takes eternity to warm up...


If you look really, really closely, you will notice small bubbles in the garlic and crushed red pepper.

Step Seven:When it sizzles ever so slightly like this, add the half-and-half and lemon juice.



Step Eight: Add a ladle of pasta water (2 - 3 T.) to the sauce. The pasta water makes the sauce magically stick to the pasta.

This is my itty-bitty ladle. Isn't he cute?



Step Nine: When the sauce bubbles up like this, add the drained pasta, zest, and half the Parmesan cheese.

Actually....I add about 2/3 of the cheese.









Step Ten: Mix well.

(Let me point out that I was out of angel hair pasta, which is my fave for this recipe, so I used spaghetti, which is also fantastically delicious.) 
Step Eleven: With a clean pair of kitchen shears, cut the stems off of the baby spinach.

If you don't mind eating stems, you can leave them on. It won't hurt you. I just prefer that the stems not make it into my pasta. 






I actually get a handful of them at a time and cut all the stems at once.  










Ok, let's talk about how these baby spinach leaves are the biggest baby spinach leaves ever. If they are super huge like this, cut them in half. You want bite-sized spinach, not mouth-sized spinach...well, I do anyway.
  






Step Twelve: Toss the spinach into the pasta...











...and the chopped Perfect Chicken.
Step Thirteen: Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

For the record, grated parmesan is prettier than the shredded parmesan shown here.








Ta-Da! Picture of my plate #1...











...and picture of my plate #2.

I ate all of this...and then some more...and then I licked the pan.

Ok, so I didn't lick the pan, but I sure did think about it.

Pure deliciousness.






Lemon Angel Hair with Chicken and Spinach
Click here for printable version
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
Perfect Chicken, cut into chunks
2 lemons, zested and juiced
3/4 c. half-and-half
1 c. Parmesan, grated (or shredded)
1 c. baby spinach, stems removed
3 T. extra virgin olive oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water well, and add pasta. Heat a large skillet over low heat. Add oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Cook until the oil sizzles (about 7-10 minutes). Add lemon juice, half-and-half, and a ladle of the pasta water to the garlic oil mixture. Raise the heat to med-low to med heat until the sauce begins to bubble. Drain pasta - DO NOT RINSE. Add the pasta, zest, and 1/2 c. Parmesan to the cream sauce. Toss for a minute or two. Add chicken and spinach, and toss until well distributed. Top with remaining cheese. Enjoy!

Side note: If your pasta is cooking too quickly, just take the pot off the heat, but leave the pasta in the hot water. The pasta will continue to cook, just at a slower pace. I have to use this trick almost every time.
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67 comments:

  1. This looks delicious....I love lemon recipes

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    1. Oh, it is delicious. This one is one of my "go to" meals. People often want me to make something when I come to their houses - and this is usuallly what I make. It's super impressive, but really easy. I love lemon recipes, too. I learned the other day that lemons metabolize alkaline. Isn't that cool? They are SUPER good for you.

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  2. This looks so yummy! I'm making my menu for the week right now and this is going on it. Thank you!!

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  3. This was wonderful and an easy meal to put together! Thanks for the recipe!

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  4. Found your recipe on Pinterest... made it last night and it was delish! I added shallots with the garlic and peppers and we grilled the chicken, yummy :)

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  5. This looks fabulous! Just wondering - maybe I skipped over it - do you add the lemon zest? I can't wait to try this one :)

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    1. Yep. You add it when you add the pasta to the sauce.

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  6. Have you ever used fat free half and half? Gosh, thus looks divine!! I love lemon, chicken AND spinach! Maybe even a little feta would be good if you were low on parmesan....making your recipe this week. I'm newly gluten-free, so I will be subbing GF pasta. What a nice treat this meal will be. Thank you!

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    1. I haven't used the fat free stuff in this before, but I have used it. Your sauce may be a little less thick, but it will still taste fantastic :)

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  7. Yummy! You had my at spinach.....

    Crystelle
    http://www.crystelleboutique.com/

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  8. Amber,
    This looks amazing! I think lemon makes everything better and brighter. I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks so much for linking up to Creative Thursday. Can’t wait to see what you share this week! Have a wonderful week.
    Michelle

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  9. I tried it and loved it! As well as my husband and 2 1/2 year old. Great job!

    I featured this on my Blog over at:
    http://rememberingtosway.blogspot.com/2012/10/lemon-angel-hair-with-chicken-and.html

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  10. Amber,
    This is simple & divine!!
    I screwed up the 1st time I made it. I added the lemon juice & zest to the garlic & crushed peppers. The garlic soaked up the lemon flavor and we ended up getting a "burst" of lemon flavor when we got a bite of garlic. It still was fantastic though!
    The next time I made it correctly and the lemon was much more subtle but really good.
    Now I add a bit of lemon juice while cooking the garlic & we get the best of both worlds!!
    It's perfectly filling but tastes light at the same time!! Our new family favorite! Thank You!

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  11. Just got done making this amazing dish. This reciepe had everything that i love AND is super easy. Thanks for sharing! :D

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  12. I thought the recipe was good but the pasta turned mushy sitting in the water. Next time I will cook the pasta last and perhaps use thin spaghetti. The lemon was a bit overpowering so I would just use one lemon. The perfect chicken recipe was amazing!!!

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  13. Unfortunately I did not have as great of luck as everyone else. After zesting and slicing my lemons, I saw that my zest was about 4 times the size of your pile. I chose to only use half of it and one lemon, and this dish still tasted too lemony. I'm so bummed =( The "perfect chicken" turned out very well though!

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    1. I just tried this recipe as well and it was crazy lemony. I'm wondering if the two lemons that were juiced were miniature lemons.

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  14. I messed this recipe up pretty bad. i don't normally cook creamy looking things but really wanted to try this! so at the step to add the half and half and the lemon the whole thing curdled! i'm guessing it was either a- my half and half was too cold or b- i added it with the lemon too soon? anyone have any ideas? the taste of the recipe itself was good! but the look- not so much. and it was clumpy. it was better the next day for lunch i added some more half and half and water to make it creamy and it seemed a little better. the perfect chicken was definitely a hit though!

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  15. Brittany...I had the same problem and it seemed very oily. My sauce was not creamy...I think i messed up with the water from the pasta. Does this recipe really require 3 Tablespoons of olive oil or did I misunderstand?

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  16. I just tried this and mine came out curdled, too! Pretty much as soon as I added the half and half, it curdled so I scrapped it and tried three more times doing things a little differently each time but it still came out the same. I'm not sure what I was doing wrong, if the pan wasn't hot enough if it was too hot or what, I don't have any experience with half and half so I don't know! Haha. I'm going to look into it and try again because this still looks amazing! My first Pinterest recipe failure! Ha

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    1. I did it all in one pan, the chicken first, then added the EVOO, the pepper, the cheeses, etc. I did the half n half last. I had no problems with curdling.

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  17. tiff- i think a little t is teaspoon big T table.. not sure what it says tho.. i just eyed that part everything else i followed tho

    liz- mine was curdled but i kept going! haha idk if that was healthy or not but the taste wasnt bad it tasted good i just wish it came out better look wise. im hoping someone answeres befor ei try it again. if not ill just have to keep googling different ways. but the pictures looked perfect on here so im hoping i find out the trick!

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  18. This is so delicious. My family is not to keen on lemons, so I left that out, but it was delicious nonetheless. I used whipping cream and milk since I didnt have any half and half and I had no problems with curdling.

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  19. The acid in the lemon is what is causing your sauce to curdle. I think if you keep going with it, whisking, that may help. After reading all comments about it curdling, I think I'll try whisking it instead of stirring. Hope it helps, this recipe sounds DELICIOUS!!

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    1. Agree, mine looked like it was curdled initially, but I continued going and it smoothed itself out.

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  20. Can I use frozen spinach instead? Sounds yummy!

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    1. I don't see why not! I would wring out the extra moisture, and I would only add a little bit of it at a time until you get the results you want, though. :) Let me know how it turns out!

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  21. This was SO GOOD - even better than I anticipated! I made sure the cream mixture was nice and hot and then whisked the lemon juice in a little at a time and had no problem with curdling. I'm usually not a huge pasta fan (my family loves it) but I look forward to making this again! Thanks for the great recipe!

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  22. This was yummy! Thanks Elise White for the advice about whisking in the lemon juice in slowly. I just made it for the first time and didn't have any problem with curdling. I didn't have spinach on hand, so used broccoli florets instead (microwaved till almost done before adding to the mixture.) I'll make this recipe again!

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  23. Thanks Amber for the yummy recipe! I'm just wondering what font you use on your blog? I know that's a weird quesitons but I love it and would like to use it on mine. Thanks!

    Anna
    annahaase@aol.com

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    1. Hi Anna,
      I use two Blogger fonts. I use "Kranky" for titles and "Coming Soon" for the text on each page. :)

      Hope that helps!

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  24. Ahhhhhmazing! This was awesome!! Pasta, spice, lemon and cheese?? Could it get any better! Im sure my husband will complain about the spinach but the leaves are large enough for him to pick out. I love love this dish! Thanks for posting!

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  25. This was great! it WILL be a go to for us from here on out! :) I made a few changes- I used minced garlic, and lemon juice (still fabulous) I also added broccoli along with the spinach. I also added feta cheese along with the parmesan. My husband isn't a fan of spinach and he LOVED it in this. He actually said he wished I had added more... I also browned the chicken first, and then added EVOO, red pepper, lemon, half n half, pasta etc. It still came out yum and even less steps needed! will try low fat options next time :)

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  26. Ok so Couldn't find in the above comments on how to mix the garlic and pepper with the half & half and it come out creamy? I tried it a few times and still didnt work out . Should I try it without so much oil?

    P.S. - I've just started cooking so I'm not experienced and this looked like a good place to start,

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  27. I was wondering if you think this recipe would be good with scallops instead of chicken?

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    1. I'm sure it would! Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

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  28. I had trouble with the sauce curdling. I tried multiple times (varying little details each time) all with the same result. How do you keep yours from curdling? Does it need to be at a certain temp? Do you whisk while adding the lemon juice? Please help!

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    1. Yeah. Mine curdles sometimes, too, because I get in a hurry. I am not a patient cook. I never mind the curdles because the cheese kind of covers it up. Most of the time, mine doesn't curdle, though. I think it has to do with the temperature of the half and half. I usually measure the half and half out before I start so it ends up being room temp by the time I'm ready for it. I know a lot of recipes that call for milk, cream, or half and half say to heat them up in a saucepan first. Maybe that's why. I don't know. :) Sorry to be so little help!

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    2. It is most likely a combination of the heat and the acid from the lemon causing the half and half to curdle. It should smooth out by the time you get to putting the pasta in. I'm thinking you might actually want the temp of the pan up a little higher so that the half and half gets warmer faster and starts to simmer rather than curdle.

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  29. I made this dish for dinner last night. It was great! A little too lemony for our taste so next time I may use just 1 lemon. Great with some garlic toast. Thanks for sharing :)

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  30. Oh my goodness!!! Best thing I've ever made off of Pinterest! I didn't have the curdling problem - but what I did do was mix the lemon and half and half in the same measuring cup, then add the hot pasta water, then whisk before putting into the pan. It was surprising because generally everything I make curdles. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Your non-curdling method is awesome. I actually heat my half and half a bit before putting it in the hot pan sometimes. It always looks curdled at first to me, but it always smooths itself out eventually...or at least blends in with the parmesan cheese :)

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  31. Thanks for sharing. I generally visit restaurants to eat chicken pasta dishes. But now i cooked it at home. Its delicious. I love it and also my all family members enjoy this delicious recipe. I am thankful to share this recipe with us.

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  32. I have been wanting to add spinach to more than tacos, wraps and salads...this looks YUMMY. I am going to be making this for chicken night next week..or maybe sooner so mumma can eat better lol. Thank yoU!

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  33. Noodles Box has come up as a real treat for all noodle lovers across the world. You can surf the website at www.noodlesbox.com and grab enticing varieties of noodles.

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  34. Hi, Amber! I tried to print out the instructions and after almost 60 seconds of "loading," got a message "the webpage is unavailable." You might want to check that. I'm glad I came here instead of just looking at your recipe on Facebook (which I shared, btw) because here, I found several thoughts on how to keep the cream from curdling. I'm makin' this dish tonight and will comment accordingly!

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  35. Amber, ignore that last comment about the printable page not being available. Once I logged into my Google account, the page came up and I printed it. We look forward to a fine dining experience, this evening! ;-)

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  36. OK, so here's my report...WOW!!! This turned out really, REALLY GOOD!! TFMW gave it her seal of approval as one of the best dishes I've ever made from scratch! So I guess that means I'll be making it again!

    And the trick about whisking the sauce as you go to keep it from curdling WORKS!! If you whisk the sauce as you're making it, that's no longer a problem.

    All in all, a wonderful meal...especially when complimented with a nice chardonnay! YUM!!!

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  37. P.S. TFMW is my acronym for "The Fetching Mrs. Wall."

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  38. As you know, I *shared* your recipe on Facebook and later on after I made it, I posted a picture, and it looks real close to yours! Except I got a little heavy handed with black pepper! Again, a wonderful dish, which at least 3 of my friends want to try to duplicate!

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    1. Terry,

      I am so sorry that I am just getting back to you! I have been overwhelmed with getting my classroom ready for school to start back tomorrow. I am so glad everything turned out so well for you!

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  39. Not sure if anyone has contacted you, but it looks like another site stole your recipe and photos and are claiming it as their own. :-/
    http://www.frugals.ca/recipe-lemon-angel-hair-with-chicken-and-spinach/

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    1. Thank you so much for letting me know. I left a comment on the site letting them know that I would have been happy to let them copy everything word for word as long as they gave me credit. It's quite sad.

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  40. Would the recipe be okay with bow tie noodles? I have a few future in laws visiting in a few day and think this might impress them.

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  41. So I made this tonight. Unfortunately mine curdled....I strained it out, but still didn't work. It tastes OK though. It almost tastes like when you add too much Ricotta in Zita and not enough sauce. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but that is the texture I think. The Chicken is delish!

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  42. I made this tonight for dinner!! Came out great. Next time I will add more spinach :)

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  43. This pasta recipe looks very yummy. I like big chunks of chiken in dish. This recipe has all my favorite ingredients.

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  44. Hey, Amber, I made it again! The whisk has become the go-to utensil to prevent any curdling. Oh, by the way, real tasty again, too!! I don't remember which of my Facebook friends (personal friend, too!) first *shared* your recipe, but I've circulated it several times--always giving attribution to you! ;-)

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  45. My daughter and I were VERY excited to give this a try the other night. Unfortunately it did not turn out. It was lemon, lemon, lemon!! Do you know approximately how much lemon juice you usually add?? I'm thinking my two lemons had way too much juice. I'd like to try it again, but only as long as I could get that part of the recipe figured out. The whole batch had to be thrown in the garbage since nobody would eat it.

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    1. The problem could be that there are two kinds of lemon: Eureka and Meyer. What your local market carries will depend on where it is, what time of year it is, the store's buyer's preference. Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic. Next time, use the juice and zest of one lemon and add more lemon to the dish just before adding the chicken and spinach, tasting as you add.

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  46. This blog is looking repository of food and found here every kind of food. it looks beautiful and superb in taste.share more recipe with better information resturent menu order

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