Sunday, December 2, 2007

Express Meals!

The members of the foodie forum I frequent have been luckily watching Nigellas new tv series “Nigella Express” which obviously accompanies her new recipe book of the same name (which has only just come out in NZ and is horrendously priced, hence I am yet to acquire it!). Feedback on the series and the book have been mixed, with many saying that her reliance on lots of pre prepared items to speed up the meal preparation process ups the cost, calorie count and likelihood of unwanted additives!

So tonight in my quest to make good food that doesn’t cost much (money, time and calorie wise!) I dragged out one of my old favourites –chicken with creamy pesto sauce. This is a perennial recipe in our household and generally comes in one of three combinations – creamy chicken and pesto, creamy bacon and mushroom or creamy smoked salmon and caper. All start the same way and have the same basic sauce, but what gets made depend on what I feel like (more likely it actually depends on what’s on special at the supermarket –guess what, this week its chicken!)

The light evaporated milk is a godsend if you are anything like me and trying to move unwanted kilos! It gives all the satisfaction of a creamy sauce with nowhere near the damage in calories! It is slightly sweeter than cream though, so I find myself using a little more salt and it doesn’t like anything acidic with it, so forget adding wine, tomatoes or lemon juice when you are using it (or you’ll get something resembling yoghurt -icky!)

What I also love about this is the fact that my 3 year old daughter likes all three versions, mainly because I always serve it with spaghetti and she is a big fan of that! In my quest to be healthier I have found an organic whole-wheat spaghetti which is actually very nice. She is a notoriously bad eater and contrary with it- one week she will eat something, the next week she’s spitting it out! So far this recipe is a stayer though, so when I am at my wits end with her, I pull this one out of my arsenal.

This meal takes a maximum of 30 minutes, from start to table. To serve with this we had a mixed salad and steamed asparagus tossed in some more of our yummy olive oil. This serves 4.

Creamy chicken and pesto pasta

1 onion chopped finely
1-2 garlic cloves chopped finely
1 tbsp olive oil
500g boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 tbsp basil pesto (I used store bought, but of course if you have home made that is definitely going to be preferable!)
1 tin light evaporated milk
1 tsp cornflour
water to mix with cornflour

Fry onion and garlic in oil. Remove from pan then fry chicken until browned (do in batches to avoid it stewing). Add onion and garlic back into pan. Mix through pesto, then add evaporated milk. Mix cornflour and water together and add to chicken to thicken sauce. Simmer 5 mins, season to taste. Serve with pasta. For the bacon and mushroom version simply fry bacon and mushrooms after onion and garlic then add the evaporated milk. The same goes for the smoked salmon, cook very briefly with a few tablespoons of capers after the onion and garlic then add the milk. Some fresh parsley or dill works well to finish it.


violets said...

Your meal looks scruptious Linda and the presentation is beautiful.

Vi xx

Mike said...

That looks so delicious.