Sunday, February 28, 2010

Creamy Herbed Rigatoni and a new salad...

Come along for another Sunday night adventure... if you've been watching this blog long enough you know I love my Sunday routine.

Well today's routine included buying another ingredient to play with: fennel. I am not real sure if I've ever used it before... and if I did I was probably scared of it and may not have used it like I was supposed to.

Tonight I wanted to make it a star of the show... I don't have a recipe for tonight. But I do have a few ingredients and pictures to share.

I started with slicing up the fennel (pretty thinly). Then I cut the chicken tender into bite size pieces. For this dish I seasoned the chicken with salt/pepper on one side only. The olive oil heated up in a large pan... and then I added the sliced fennel and chicken. The kept the mixture on the heat until the chicken was cooked through and the fennel started to slightly brown.

This is what it looked like when I started...




But while the chicken and fennel were cooking I got out another secret weapon...





Yes, your eyes are working correctly. I put this little secret in my pocket a long time ago... it's not a culinary secret that chefs utilize, but a secret nontheless... plus, I'm not a chef.



Just wait, you watch... you'll see...

All the while, the rigatoni has been working...



And when it was al dente, I transferred it to the pan with the cooked chicken/fennel. I didn't strain it... I just pulled the pasta out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and then brought over some pasta water too. (The water helps to make the sauce...)



And then I added some of the Rondele (herbed creamy spread), about 1 cup of it. However, next time... I will do it slightly different: I will add the Rondele BEFORE adding the pasta (and then adding 1/2 cup of pasta water to melt down the cheese). And THEN I will add the pasta... and toss it all together.

But as you can see, it still worked out ok...



I grabbed a big spoon, moved it around in the hot pan... and kept tossing...



Doesn't that look great?! Oh, it smells good too!




And the pasta dish was served up with Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing.

Except I made some slight changes to Paula Deen's recipe: 1) I used "spring mix" instead of spinach ('cuz that's what I had in the refrigerator), 2) I cooked the diced mushrooms and red onion along w/ the shallots ('cuz red onions can be kinda strong for me), etc and 3) I used more bacon than the recipe called for. (I'm sure Paula wouldn't be too upset about that!)


I know what you're thinking... "There she goes again... not following the rules!"




Follow-up thoughts on fennel... raw it tastes faintly like anise (aka black licorice). And this is nice in a special salad every now and then... but cooked like I did it tonight creates a whole new taste. The anise flavor mellows out but you bite into something slightly crunchy, taste it and your head tilts slightly to the side and you say outloud "what IS that?"... and you're reminded... life is good!


I dare you... switch it up! Make it your own!





enjoy your time in the kitchen...

3 comments:

Barbara Neely said...

Fennel is one of my favorites. Our mideastern dinner came out awesome. One of the star dishes was very simple. Slightly roasted eggplants mixed in with some fried onions and mushrooms and slightly fried, then returned to the shells, covered with a small amount of bechamel sauce, sprinkled with a Greek grating cheese and baked. Yummy

Lori said...

I wandered over to your FB page to ask how the middle eastern dinner went just that a few minutes ago... but couldn't write on your wall!

Your eggplant dish sounds super yummy! Thanks for the inspiration!

Austen_gal said...

I never had fennel until a few weeks ago. It was a rigatoni with sun-dried tomato sauce. I really liked that and now I'll have to try this one out!

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