Whenever I do not know what I feel like cooking, I look to pasta for inspiration. I came up with this one on Sunday and I hope that my cousin David will like it. The sauce turned out better than even I expected. It calls for half & half and a little butter – get over it, people! It won’t kill you and it is sooooooooooooooo satisfying. And yes, you should pair it with a good red wine, a crusty bread so you don’t miss a drop of sauce and a salad if you are feeling ambitious. I like a sharp pecorino grated on top but parmesan would also be great. Pecorino is pretty salty so adjust your salt accordingly if using. And the best part is that you don’t have to be too crazy about measuring. Below is a guide, but feel free to eyeball your ingredients based on personal preference.
Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Spinach
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 pound of Fettuccine (preferably rigate)
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1/2 to 3/4 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large dice and generously sprinkled with Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper (The thighs have more flavor than chicken breasts and also don’t dry out as easily.)
1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
Lots of fresh thyme (preferably lemon thyme if you can get it)
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup red wine (use what you will be drinking or if you have some left-over that is still good for cooking but no longer at its best for drinking)
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I like cremini or baby bello)
1 generous cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
10 ounces of baby spinach (It really cooks down so this is NOT too much). If you use regular spinach, you will need to remove the hard stems.
1 cup half & half
red pepper flakes to taste
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat the EVOO and add the onion and diced chicken. Do not move the chicken around too much because you are trying to get a nice brown on it. Once the chicken has browned, remove it to a bowl and set aside. It should be easy to pick the chicken from the onions.
- Add the garlic to the pan and saute until the garlic just begins to brown. Add the red wine and mushrooms and cook on a medium high heat until the wine becomes syrupy and reduces by half.
- Add in the butter, thyme (at least 1 Tablespoon), chicken and the grape tomatoes. If you are making the sauce ahead, stir through and turn off the heat and cover until you are ready to cook the pasta.
- Cook your pasta according to package, but 3 minutes before it is finished (so if it cooks for 8 minutes then 5 minutes in) throw your spinach into the pot with the pasta and give it a stir. Finish cooking.
- Drain the pasta and spinach together and immediately add to the sauce. If your pan isn’t big enough, then add the sauce to the pasta which has been returned to its cooking pot. Immediately add the cream and hot pepper flakes, if using and cook on high heat for about a minute, mixing everything through. Plate and add freshly grated cheese.
Note: If you Really don’t want to use cream, add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of pasta water at the end before draining the pasta. It will give a creamy-ish sauce and will also taste delicious. But if you can, definitely use the cream.