Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Southwestern Pasta Bake

This is a recipe from Rachael Ray's old cookbook, 365: No Repeats.  We both liked it and went back for seconds, and I know it would have been better if I'd actually had all the ingredients (no cilantro or parsley worth buying in the grocery store, so none went into the food; I also didn't have coriander, which it called for originally).   It was a spicier form of mac-and-cheese with chicken with some onion and jalapeno. 

The recipe really did go quickly, according to her 30 minute promise, but I'm in no hurry, and I don't want to use every pan in my kitchen to make it all in 30 minutes, so I used the pasta pot to make the cheese sauce while the pasta was hanging out in the colander.  (If you do it in half an hour, you have so many dirty dishes!  Everything cooks at the same time.  Make it easy on yourself; spread it out.)

I think she stuck it under the broiler at the end for the 30 minute promise, but if you wanted everything to firm up and get some color, you could put it in the oven at 350 for 15 or so minutes; we sprinkled breadcrumbs on top and put it under the broiler, and it was really good.

Southwestern Pasta Bake

1 lb pasta (I used farfalle; she suggested penne rigate)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the broiler and position the rack on the 2nd shelf.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil.  Season the chicken with cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the seasoned chicken to the hot skillet, and cook until lightly brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeno, and continue to cook for 5 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking with the onions, make the Cheddar sauce.

In a medium sauce pot (or the pot you cooked the pasta in), melt the butter, and add the flour to it.  Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, and then whisk in the milk.  When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro, and parsley. 
Combine the pasta, chicken mixture, and cheese mixture in one large pot, and stir to combine.  Transfer to a baking dish, and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to lightly brown.

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