I would eat grilled, marinated chicken, rice pilaf and asparagus every night. At least for a while. Maybe a month or two. When I offered it to the boys as a dinner option, however, I was greeted with facial expressions more appropriate to a three-year exile on the Gulag Archipelago. I could not get a straight answer about what was wrong with this dinner (which I thought we all enjoyed); after extensive inquiry the best I got was a passive-aggressive “it’s really okay,” which made me feel simultaneously guilty and annoyed.
Boxed pilaf lasts forever, and I was going to have to go out and buy fresh asparagus, anyway. The boneless,. skinless chicken breasts, however, really needed to be eaten. I rummaged through the cupboards and found a can of San Marzano Tomatoes and a bag of linguine, and I always have onions, garlic, carrots, and olive oil. I also remembered that I had fresh basil and a container of heavy cream left over from a recipe that lost out to take out one night earlier in the week. The game was afoot, and no one in this house was going to roll their eyes at an “okay” dinner. I was going to make them beg for seconds.
This is what I made, and I have to say with complete immodesty that while it was not healthy, and highly inauthentic as Italian cuisine, it was very, very tasty and they ate every last bit.
Chicken and Linguine with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
- 4 large or 6 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts cleaned, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 can San Marzano Tomatoes, briefly pulsed in food processor or blender
- 1 onion, chopped.
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1/4 cup shredded carrot
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half
- 1/4-1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil
- 1 pound linguine
- 1 cup half & half or heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- red wine (optional)
- sugar (optional)
- Parmesan cheese
Fill large pot with water for pasta and bring to a boil.
In a large saucepan, sautee onions, garlic and carrots in 2 tablespoons olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes and basil, and a splash of red wine if you like; bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
In a large sautee pan, heat olive oil and sautee 1 crushed garlic clove until golden; remove with slotted spoon. Add chicken to pan, salt and pepper, and sautee until golden brown. Add chicken to sauce mixture.
Boil pasta for 10 minutes. During final 2 minutes remove sauce from heat, add cream and taste, adding salt and pepper if necessary. If sauce is too tart for your taste, add a pinch of sugar to correct.
Serve linguine with sauce, and Parmesan to grate. This is perfect with a green salad lightly dressed with oil and vinegar, and a bottle of good red wine.