Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Creamy Pasta with Leeks, Asparagus, and Chicken: For when it continues to rain

For the sun, who has disappeared from recent memory

In the Bay Area, although one expects rain and wants much rain during the winter months, the reality of continuous, endless, days of rain on end is entirely a different story. Mothers with multiple children find themselves scrambling to find ways to entertain the kids while keeping the house from being destroyed. I too have found myself pulling my hair out near the end of the day after almost 3 weeks of continual rain and kids being unable to play outside. It's not pretty, it's not fun, and it's not easy.

On top of that, personally, I need to see sunshine. I am, after all a California girl through and through, and the lack of sunshine is getting to me. I find myself a bit more snappish than usual, edgy and irritable - and have decided it is due to the lack of sunshine. I need a few moments at least, to allow my skin to bask in some sort of warm glow - and the rain, however appealing on the first couple of days, does not do it. I feel wet, damp and sickly - instead of energetic, vibrant and alive.

To bring some warmth and heat into the otherwise damp and dreary gray days, I decided to make another variation on a pasta dish I had posted before - this time using up some leftover rotisserie chicken and brightening it up with some lovely green asparagus. The result was something yummy, and effort was minimal. It was almost liking having a bit of sun in my day, although I'm still waiting for the real deal.

Pasta with Creamy Leeks, Chicken and Asparagus

(adapted from Food and Wine | January 2010)
Serves 6

1 pound pasta like bowtie, fusilli, gemelli - something that can hold sauce (I favor the mini bowties because they cook so quickly - 7 minutes)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 cups rotisserie chicken meat, shredded into bite-sized pieces
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 lb of asparagus, tough ends broken off, cut into two inch pieces
1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional - for sprinkling on top)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions, until al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks cook over moderate heat until leeks are softened, about 12 minutes. Add the asparagus, chicken and cream and simmer over moderate heat until asparagus is crisp tender, about 6 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss over moderately low heat until coated with the leek sauce, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the chopped basil and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pasta into bowls and serve. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese if desired.

Printable recipe
ah....can almost feel the warmth

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