Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chicken Broccoli Pasta

As far back as I can remember, when asked what I wanted my mother to cook for my birthday dinner, I had the same answer: Chicken Broccoli Pasta. And when asked what cake I wanted, the answer was either Strawberry Shortcake (the easy answer), or Mother's Day Cake (the hard answer because it takes about a day to make). Between the pregnancy and packing to move (that's what military families do!), this is not a post about the day-long cake making. Don't get me wrong - when I get there, you'll love it. But for now, let's focus on the main course.

Chicken Broccoli Pasta was, what I thought until about a year ago, a super fancy pasta dish made mostly for impressive events like birthdays, or at least Sunday Dinner. But now? Now I realize my mother was tricking me for years... because this is one of the easier dishes I've ever made. Is it still impressive? Yes. But does it take a sizable chunk of time? NO! Does it even take a sizable amount of talent? NO! In fact, this is now my go-to girls night dinner. I generally start cooking after everyone gets there: just get people set up with beverages, and then go-to. I'd say it is a 20 minute dish. Which, considering that you have to get pasta water to boil, is about as good as it gets. Especially when it's your favorite meal we're talking about.
Compile all the ingredients.
ooh wow. Clearly I was cooking for girls night when I took this picture, since that's the worst grouping of ingredients yet. Sorry about that. Point is: less than 10 ingredients in the whole thing. That's including things like "salt" or "butter," which I assume you already have. Clearly, since I forgot them in the picture...

Step one: cut-up raw chicken breasts (yuck) into bit-sized bits. Once you've done that, wash your hands and revel in the happiness of the worst part already being over. Now saute the chicken with butter, some lemon (optional), lemon pepper, and salt and pepper until cooked through.

(oh, and put the water for your pasta on to boil... at least I have to do it now for timing's sake, but I have about the worst stove in America so it takes forever.)

Step two: in a food processor put in about 6 ounces of parmesan cheese (if you buy it in blocks instead of pre-shreaded or shaved, break it up and let is whirl around a few seconds). Once in pieces please add butter (in chunks), some cream, garlic and parsley. Pulse everything together. Smell. (mmm... garlic, parsley, cheese... amazing smell. Does it make you want to add some more garlic? me too... go for it.)

If you're being super-healthy, you can use milk instead of the cream. It was in the original recipe my mom started modifying way back in the 80's... but I say you should go for the gusto. It's fancy.

Step three: just before the noodles are done (about 8 minutes?), add cut-up broccoli to the water. Cook until the pasta is al-dente and broccoli is cooked, but still firm. Drain.

Step four: In a large dish add the three groups in this order: cheese mixture, chicken, and then pasta/broccoli. Add more salt and pepper than you think you might need. Place on the table. When you're ready to eat toss together and top with some extra cheese, salt and pepper.

mmm... doesn't that feel fancy and delicious? And it all happened so fast. And you now look super talented. Winning.

Chicken Broccoli Pasta

3-4 chicken breasts, cut-up
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs butter, divided
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 box fettuccine noodles
6 oz parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
1/2 cup cream
1 head (or more) broccoli

Cut chicken breasts and saute in 1 tbs butter, 1 clove garlic and 1 tsp lemon pepper. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice in if desired. Saute until cooked through.

Boil fettuccine noodles. Just before the noodles are done (about 8 minutes), add the cut-up broccoli. Drain when noodles are cooked al-dente according to the box's suggestions.

In a food processor combine 6 oz chopped (or shredded) Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup butter (cut into pieces) 1 clove garlic and a handful of parsley. pulse and add 1/2 cup cream.

In a large dish add (in this order): cheese mixture, chicken, then pasta/broccoli. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss, garnish with extra cheese, salt and pepper. Enjoy like it's your birthday. Or mine.


  1. Oh my goodness. That looks lovely! I will be making this week for sure!!

  2. Liz Timms GrossickJune 14, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    Hmmmm! Oh, yes. One of my personal favourites of your mother's. Although it'sh ard to choose because there are so many, but this is wonderful!!! I think about this sometimes! Thank you for posting!!! (PS: Love you). xo