I used to hate Italian food. I know, I know...what was wrong with me? Tomato sauce has been my enemy since childhood. So, I avoided all things Italian. Except Joe.
Joe is my Italian-American husband. When we began dating, he was shocked that I had lived without pasta in my life. After explaining that pasta sauce and I don't go together very well, he understood. But, he didn't give up. One night, his father made pasta sauce and asked me to try it. I told him my story, and he laughed. He said that his homemade sauce won't make me sick. Ok, I figured, I'd give it a try.
It was delicious. Creamy, with hints of basil. I was in love. Best of all, he was right: my stomach was fine. He showed me how to make sauce, using baking powder to remove the acidity. After that, I could not wait for his father's meals! He showed me how to make all sorts of Italian foods, including the sacred meatballs.
I make pasta at least twice a week for dinner. It's not figure-friendly, but man is it good. I know I'm the last to make it to the table on this one. But, I'm more than making up for lost time. I love to experiment with new pastas, pestos, sauces and combinations. One of my favorites is a meal that I threw together when my pantry was running low. I called it my Rustic Italian Penne, because it's not beautiful, it's delicious. It's also a good way to get my hubby to eat his vegetables :) Enjoy!
Rustic Italian Penne
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
3 c. spinach
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 c. artichoke hearts
1 1/2 c. fresh mozzerella, cubed
2 c. penne
1-2c. marinara sauce
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Butter
Cook penne according to package instructions. Set aside.
Sautee garlic in Butter and Olive Oil for 2 minutes. Add chicken and brown until cooked, about 5 minutes. Take chicken out of pan and set aside. Add spinach and artichoke hearts and sautee until cooked, about 10 minutes. Add chicken, penne and marinara sauce to mixture.
Allow mixture to cook for another minute to combine. If sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta cooking water.
Remove from heat and stir in mozzerella. Top with fresh basil.