We had much to celebrate this weekend because my husband’s 31st birthday is this week. We wanted to have a little dinner party with his family for this special day. After all, you only turn 31 once! His mom brought the cake and I set to work on a special birthday dinner to celebrate my hubby and all that he does for us.
I have had this dish in my recipes forever and thought it would be the perfect choice for our birthday dinner. Over the years, I have changed different ingredients in it, lightened the dish, and added my own spin to the recipe. I paired this with homemade breadsticks, dipping sauce (using my pizza sauce recipe listed in my pizza routine), tossed salad, and pink lemonade.
The garlic cream sauce is light and lovely and just the perfect balance of garlic. Don’t be scared of the amount of garlic that goes into this because as it cooks it just gets sweeter and more delicious. The bits of chicken mixed with the pasta and cheese makes for a yummy combination that is just like something you would eat in any fancy Italian restaurant.
The dish though is surprisingly affordable and I was able to find all of the ingredients at Aldi Supermarket. The only splurge is the cup of wine in the dish, but I just measured some out of the box of wine we keep in the fridge. You could also substitute this with an additional cup of chicken broth, if you would like!
Chicken, Broccoli & Fusilli in Garlic Cream Sauce
Adapted from Epicurious.com
5 cups broccoli florets (from about 1 large bunch)
1 pound fusilli or other corkscrew pasta (you could also do a whole wheat rotini)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (about 8 cloves or 3 tablespoons of jarred minced garlic)
3 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2″ strips (see alternate cooking instructions below)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the fusilli pasta to the water. Cook as directed, but in the last four minutes throw in the broccoli florets to cook with the pasta for the last four minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and chicken and sauté until chicken is just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken. To the same pan, add wine, broth and half & half to skillet and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 8 minutes. Add pasta, broccoli, chicken and cheese to sauce and toss until mixture is heated through and coated evenly with sauce.
Quick Note About Cooking Chicken in Bulk
I don’t keep a lot of fresh chicken around and prefer to buy the frozen chicken breasts instead. There is money to be saved in buying and preparing whole chickens, but my family only likes white meat so for convenience sake (and to get them to eat it), we stick to the chicken breasts.
I buy the 3 pound bag of chicken from Aldi and cook and dice all of the chicken for the week. The chicken is then ready to go to be made into wrap sandwiches, fast paninis, a protein addition to my salads for lunch, and it helps me save a step for our dinners for the week.
It is a matter of preference how you like to cook your chicken, but I will share my favorite way that I do weekly!
Roasted Chicken Breasts for Bulk Cooking
Preheat the oven for 375 degrees. Spread the frozen chicken breasts out over one or two cookie sheets. Drizzle a little olive oil over the chicken breasts and then sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest ten to fifteen minutes (to allow the juices to redistribute within the meat). Dice or shred for your recipes for the week.
Do you cook any of your meat in bulk for your recipes? Feel free to share your techniques for bulk cooking here!