By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
So, I'm not really sure when it happened, but holy cow, fall weather has totally come to the East Coast. You know how I know? Because my fur children are pawing my face to get under the covers with me in the morning. It's' chilly. Apparently yes, still chilly even if you are wearing a fur coat. But with that fall weather I really start to crave warm comforting dishes like cheesy grits (just kidding, those are a year round food), pasta and chili. What luck that October is also National Pasta month. Celebrate with an easy light chicken and mushroom cream pasta with kale. Go crazy party people.
Perhaps one of the best things about pasta is the variety and how easily (and quickly) it becomes a meal. You can always have pasta on hand for a quick dinner and it's the perfect 'confetti' to go with vegetables. Something about eating pasta feels comforting but pairing it with whatever seasonal veggies are in your kitchen is a smooth healthy hostess move for cleaning out the fridge and eating healthier. For this recipe I wanted to share a light cream sauce I throw together pretty quickly.
Let's talk about this pasta. This variety is called paccheri rigati pasta and basically they are massive tubes perfect for chunky sauces like the light cream mushroom one in this recipe. I only know this because I read the label, not because I have any Italian heritage (at all). What I really like about this shape is it becomes part of a smart diet free healthy eating tactic. Because the noodles are so large and have volume (no middle), even if you serve yourself up a larger portion than you should, you're eating less noodle. You've tricked yourself because yes, it looks like more...but it's a lot of air too. There's also a total novelty factor. Let's be real. It's fun to eat these.
While you can totally keep this vegetarian and omit the chicken, I like the umami flavor the chicken we roasted the night before brings to this dish...and yes, that totally is crispy chicken skin on top. Every dish needs something crisp.
Light Chicken and Mushroom Pasta
/// Ingredients ///
- 1 1/3 C paccheri rigati (shape) pasta
- 2 T hickory brown sugar cured bacon fat (or butter)
- 1 T flour
- 1 C skim milk
- 1 C oyster mushrooms, chopped
- 1 C rotisserie chicken meat, chopped
- 1 C kale, shredded
- 1-2 T crisp, roasted chicken skin
- 3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
- salt and pepper
/// Directions /// Cook pasta to package directions. Be sure to salt the water. While the pasta is cooking, make the light cream sauce. Melt bacon pan drippings or butter in a medium sized pot. Whisk in flour and allow to cook for a minute or two. The solids should turn light brown and smell a little nutty. Whisk in skim milk, bring to a boil, whisking constantly to thicken. Take off heat. Mix in chopped mushrooms, chicken and kale. Add to cooked and drained pasta. To the top of the dish, add crisp chicken skin (reserved from a rotisserie chicken- crisp in a toaster oven if you made the chicken last night), fresh lemon thyme (important for cutting through the cream flavor) and salt and pepper to taste.
Adding the chopped mushrooms is a great way to add them to a recipe, but also stretch the dish. Instead of all chicken, you're mixing in a great veggie option and making a smart, cost effective move. With lots of fluffy kale, you're also doing the same smart weight management move: more volume for less calories (and way more nutrition).
Happy pasta month! See other smart pasta recipes below from other Recipe Redux members!
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.