I absolutely loooove having friends over for dinner. But I have to admit, when a fellow foodie is on the guest list, I do feel the need to make something a little extra tasty. People say you should never try a new recipe at a dinner party, and normally I'd agree, if the recipe is really involved and uses ingredients you aren't familiar with. But as I learned Monday, sometime recipes you've never made before turn out to be the ones you add to your Easy Entertaining pocketbook.
Chicken with Alfredo and Vegetable Pasta (I know, not a very creative name - send me new suggestions)
For the Chicken
1 mixed bag of chicken: breast, thighs, legs - I take off most of the fat
salt, pepper, garlic powder
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the chicken on it. Cover evenly with oil, then spice both sides, rubbing everything into the skin and little crevices.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the juices run clear.
Take out of the over and cover with another sheet of aluminium foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
For the Pasta
Make the Veggies:
1 bell pepper, sliced thinly and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 scallions chopped, plus another chopped finely and set aside for garnish
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8-10 slices sundried tomatoes, cut into strips
In a saute pan, brown the onion and garlic. Add the bell pepper and when this is soft, add the scallions and cook until the scallions are just soft enough to mellow out their onion-y flavor (you don't want them turning brown). Then, add the sundried tomatoes and at the very end, a few more pieces of fresh scallion.
Make the Sauce:
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, grated
3 Tbs cream cheese
4 Tbs flour
3 Tbs butter
1 c milk
salt, pepper, garlic powder
Make a rue by melting the butter then adding the flour and cooking the two with a whisk for about 20 seconds. This takes away any gritty flavor of the flour. Over medium-high heat, add the milk and whisk like your life depends on it. This won't thicken up immediately, but it will so be patient. Add the cream cheese, spices, and pecorino and watch as it all comes together. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid, and let sit till your pasta has cooked.
Make the Compote:
1 package baby tomatoes, sliced into quarters
2 Tbs good olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Throw in 4 leaves of basil, chopped, if you have any
Mix all together and let sit until ready to serve
Make the Pasta:
I use about 3/4 package of spaghetti pasta
Cook it and reserve a little pasta water in case everything is too thick when you're combining the parts.
Finish it up:
Add the veggies to the pasta, then mix in the Alfredo and toss to coat. I drizzle in a little olive oil in addition to the pasta water because it is a little thick as-in. Put on a plate and garnish with the reserved scallions and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. After guests have served themselves, have them put a little of the Tomato Compote over their pasta - it gives an amazing bite to the dish.
Tips from the Chef:
- Whenever you are using olive oil, know these things: a fruity, flavorful olive oil is good for anything you will taste directly (for instance, salad leaves) while an extra virgin olive oil is useful for sauteing.
- I like using red of yellow bell pepper for cooking, I just think the flavor is sweeter and less harsh than the green variety
- Pair this dish with a wonderful red or white wine
- There is no shame in accepting help. I grew up with a Persian mother who refused to let anyone (excluding family members) bring a dish with them when they came over. I think there's no problem with letting people be a part of the meal, especially if they have a special dish they want to share. Another plus is that by participating in the meal, people are more likely to feel more comfortable eating YOUR meal. Our guest, Kelly, brought an amazing salad and kindly shared the recipe with me, so look forward to seeing that in the near future!