11 July 2010

Grilled Chicken and Pasta in Fresh Basil-Cream Sauce

Remember my Ravioli Double Take? The sauce had potential, but it just fell short of the mark (both in taste and quantity). After reading your comments, I decided that I really need to revamp the sauce and give it a chance. So I did. Thank you readers for convincing me to try this one again!

I knew I didn't want to try more ravioli, but I also wanted to stay away from my normal pastas: macaroni, tagliatelle, and spaghetti. And, surprisingly, I stumbled across orechiette when I was looking for a grill. Crazy, huh? I grabbed the orechiette and wandered over to the chocolate section. I found a bar of Lindt salted chocolate, and feeling adventurous, I grabbed it. Hubby has never been so surprised to like a chocolate before, claiming whomever came up with the idea to add salt to chocolate was a genius. I concur.

Oh yeah, you came here for a recipe, not for chocolate! Back to chicken. When I went to the store, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. I ended up purchasing chicken fingers because they cook quickly and I didn't want to heat the kitchen anymore than needed. Instead of opting for canned tomatoes, I purchased a bunch of beautiful fresh tomatoes. I'm excited that I finally get to post a recipe for you!

Grilled Chicken and Pasta in Fresh Basil-Cream Sauce
heavily adapted from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

8 oz dried orechiette pasta

1 pound chicken fingers*
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt, pepper, powdered garlic

2 tablespoons butter
3 green onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
4 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (garnish)

Cook orechiette according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, season the chicken fingers with dried basil, and salt, pepper, and powdered garlic to taste. Grill in a preheated grill pan over medium high heat, flipping once. Depending on what your stove thinks of as medium, this may take about 6 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add green onions and Italian seasoning, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Stir in fresh tomatoes, basil, cream, hot red pepper flakes, and milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the Parmesan 1/4 cup at a time, making sure all the cheese is melted before the next addition.

To serve, layer orechiette, chicken fingers, a large helping of sauce, and a sprinkle of fresh basil. Enjoy!

*Vegetarian Option: Instead of chicken fingers you can either grill portobello mushroom caps or sauté 2 cups of fresh sliced mushrooms (cremini would be tasty) with the green onions. Or better yet, do both! Additionally, pescatarians might find shrimp or salmon could easily replace the chicken. The choice is yours!


  1. This is definitely one I will try. Hubby won't eat it but that's ok. Think I'll use mushrooms. Glad you decided to give the sauce another chance but with a Melanie twist!

  2. Were you happy with the flavor this time? Was 3 cloves of garlic enough? I like the look of fresh tomatoes and a sauce that isn't pink. Yay for salted chocolate.

  3. Yum! All the ingredients are yummy - I be the combination is fabulous!
    By the way, orechiette means "little ear" in Italian.

  4. Benjamin brought home a lot of tomatoes from the lake last weekend...Maybe this would be a great use for them! Sounds really yummy!

  5. @ Aunt Vicki: Enjoy! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it with mushrooms!

    @ Tabitha: 3 was good, but I'm sure you'd want more! And the sauce did have a slightly pink coloring, but it looked much more appetizing than the last one.

    @ Michelle: It's amazing how fresh ingredients can change something mundane into something yummy! Hubby doesn't always like to try out new pasta shapes, but we both enjoyed how the little ears served as cups for the sauce.

    @ Momma: You'll want to leave out the hot red pepper flakes, but put them on the table for Ben! Enjoy!

  6. This looks yummy! I always have fresh basil on hand from the garden that I'm looking to use, so I need to try this. :-)

  7. This was the recipe I chose for this month's SRC :) I absolutely loved it. I cannot even tell you how much I loved it - because it wouldn't do justice. My husband and kids loved it too. It will definitely be made regularly in my house!



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