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Chicken and Broccoli with
Whole Wheat Pasta

Have you had enough chocolate [1] yet? Well there’s more to come from me this month [2], but for now I’ll give your sweet tooth a break and share a recipe for a light entrée you can try just in case you had too many desserts this past weekend or have been eating heavy meals a little too much during the past several weeks. I’ve had a few recent requests for a “low-cal” dish, so here’s my response (also, check out the Light & Tasty [3] category in the right sidebar for additional recipes).

This chicken and broccoli entrée serves as a light meal on its own and no other side dishes are really needed. The extra-virgin olive oil and butter (yes, butter … a little won’t hurt you) give it flavor along with the minced garlic and red pepper flakes; however, if you have kids or finicky folks in the house, it might not go over too well –- so try it out and see. If they boycott the dinner table, you can always make (or buy I suppose) an Alfredo sauce to go over it, but then again, it wouldn’t be “low-cal.”

This dish definitely makes a good and fairly quick lunch as well as a light dinner. I still think I need to fine-tune the cooking times and measurements of this recipe a little more, so I plan to try it a few more times and update the recipe below. However, what I’ve written here will work for you and is basically the process I followed when I first developed the recipe. Enjoy!

Chicken and Broccoli with Whole Wheat Pasta

2 cups whole wheat fusilli pasta (corkscrew)
1 red bell pepper cut into thin 2” long strips
1 bunch broccoli (about 4 stalks), use florets only
1-1/2 pound of chicken breast cutlets cut into 1” pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter (you can substitute with an additional 3T olive oil)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water (use 1 teaspoon salt) to a boil. Bring another large pot of salted water (2 teaspoons) to a boil. As water is coming to a boil, fill a large bowl (big enough to hold the broccoli florets) with water and ice to create an ice bath.

Add rinsed broccoli florets to first pot of boiling water and let water come back to a boil and continue to cook until broccoli turns bright green (about 3 – 4 minutes). Quickly drain the broccoli and then add the florets to the ice bath for 1 – 2 minutes to stop the cooking process. Drain broccoli from ice bath and set aside. Note: Don’t allow broccoli to sit in the ice bath until you’re ready to use it. It can dilute the flavor of the broccoli.

Add pasta to second pot of boiling water and boil for 6 – 8 minutes. Test a piece of pasta for doneness. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add garlic and dried red pepper flakes and sauté (stirring) for 1 minute. Add chicken pieces and cook on one side for 3 minutes, turn pieces over and cook for an additional 4 – 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add bell pepper strips, pasta, and broccoli. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over everything in the pan, and add cut up pieces of the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter throughout the pan. Sauté everything together for another 7 minutes. Add cheese and gently toss with the pasta, broccoli, chicken, and bell pepper.  Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional grated parmesan if desired.

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