As Memorial Day approaches and the weather warms, everyone starts looking forward to the best traditions that summer has to offer. One of the first things that pops into my mind is a backyard barbeque, grilling up the quintessentially American hot dogs and burgers. However, turns out that chicken is actually the choice meat of most Americans! Chicken has been praised for its low fat content and its versatility makes it an easy staple in any family’s weekly dinners.
In my house, chicken has been and always will be one of our main dinner entrées. My mom strives to make meals that are quick, easy, and nutritious. She is constantly trying new things, but my longstanding favorite is her Chicken and Broccoli Pasta. This pasta is easy to make any time of the year because it’s not a heavy dinner. And, honestly, it’s so delicious that I would eat it even on a scorching hot summer’s day.
Over the years, in an effort to be more health conscious, my mom has made some changes to the recipe, namely substituting standard white angel hair for whole wheat spaghetti to provide a good source of fiber and whole grains in our meal. To make it less fattening and more summery, you could also substitute olive oil for the white wine and cream sauce. One addition that I would make as well is to add some extra vegetables. Pretty much anything could compliment this dish, but one of my family’s favorites is tomato. Cherry tomatoes would be a light and fresh addition perfect for summertime, but I also love the sun-dried variety for an extra kick of flavor. Organic store-bought tomatoes are great, but as it’s almost summertime, it might be a good idea to grow some of your own in your garden for that fresh homegrown taste. When I was younger, my little brothers and I would each get to choose our own vegetable to grow in our garden. My brother Brandon always chose tomatoes while my veggie of choice was...you guessed it: broccoli!
Mom’s Chicken and Broccoli Pasta hasn’t just made into my top five of family dinners (and established itself as my standard birthday dinner request), it was also a favorite of my grandpa’s. Anytime my Bucky would ask, my mom would whip up this pasta for him and he and my Noni would come over to enjoy our dinner with us. It’s memories of nights like these coupled with the dish’s tastiness that make Mom’s Chicken and Broccoli Pasta the ultimate comfort food in my house.
Mom’s Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
(adapted from The Junior League Centennial Cookbook)
6 boneless chicken breast halves
1 lb broccoli florets, blanched
6 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon dried whole tarragon, crumbled
2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 pound whole wheat thin spaghetti, cooked
Lightly pound the chicken between pieces of waxed paper to ½ inch thickness. Sautee in the butter over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Add the garlic, tarragon, cream, salt, wine, and cayenne pepper. Stir until blended; cook over medium heat until the chicken is done and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 30 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until well blended. Add the broccoli to the large bowl of pasta and then pour the entire pan of chicken and sauce over the pasta. Enjoy!