Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chicken Primavera

(This recipe was first posted in conjunction with the Meijer Ad Week of 1/22/12-1/28/12)

This pasta dish looks and tastes gourmet, but it's really quite simple!  The sauteed vegetables add tons of flavor, so it calls for only minimal spices.

1 cup julienned sweet red pepper
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp dried basil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and sliced into thin strips
1/2 tsp salt
Hot, cooked angel hair pasta (about 3/4 of a 16 oz box)

[Start water to boil for the pasta.]  In a large skillet, saute the red pepper, mushrooms, onions, and garlic in butter or margarine (about 4-6 minutes on high, depending on how soft you want them).  [Right about now, you should put the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to package directions.]  Add whipping cream, basil, chicken, and salt to the sauteed vegetables.  Cook and stir until bubbly, warm, and slightly thickened.  Serve over hot, cooked pasta, with garlic bread and/or salad.
Options and Tips
  • If you want to keep down the cost of this recipe, you can substitute milk for the whipping cream. I generally use whole milk instead of whipping cream, but I've used skim milk as well, and it still turned out OK.  Using milk instead of whipping cream will make your sauce a lot thinner, so try this trick:  Add 1 3/4 cups milk to the sauce (instead of the full 2 cups).  Mix remaining 1/4 cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.  After the sauce starts to bubble, add a "glug" of the milk/cornstarch mixture (you will have to mix it again right before pouring it in, because the cornstarch tends to settle) and stir well.  Keep adding cornstarch/milk mixture a little at a time (but you don't have to use it ALL), stirring well after each addition, until the sauce reaches desired consistency.  Making the sauce this way with milk and cornstarch instead of whipping cream means that your sauce won't be quite so creamy, but it still tastes fine. 
  • This recipe calls for cooked chicken.  You could grill it, bake it (20-25 minutes at 400 degrees), or fry it in on the stovetop.  To fry it in the pan:  Trim off all visible fat with kitchen scissors.  Thinly slice each piece with a sharp knife.  Heat 1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil in a skillet.  Cook chicken pieces until they turn white on the bottom, then flip each piece over using a tongs.  Cook 2-4 more minutes, depending on how thick your slices are.  If you're not sure if the pieces are done or not, grab one out and cut a small slit in it to see if it is still pink in the middle or not.  If the middle is still pink, put it back in the pan for at least one more minute.  Remove the chicken pieces one at a time, using a tongs.  Start with the thinnest pieces, and by the time you get to the thickest pieces, they will probably be done perfectly.  You can use this same pan for the vegetables and sauce...just dump out any chicken juices and do a quick wipe with a paper towel.
  • Peeling and mincing garlic cloves:  this is one of my least favorite kitchen tasks, but it goes much better if I first set a clove on the counter and bang on it a few times with the side of a large knife.  This seems to loosen up the skin, and it peels off much easier.  Minced garlic pieces do not all have to be the same size, but they SHOULD be as small as possible.  This can be accomplished by putting the peeled cloves in a food processor or chopper, or smashing them with a garlic press.  You can also use a large chef's knife on a cutting board, but a small paring knife "just won't cut it" for this job (pun intended, sorry!)
  • Plan ahead:  there's quite a bit of chopping involved in this recipe, so if you want to cut down on the prep time right before supper, just chop all the veggies earlier in the day and refrigerate until it's time to throw them in the pan.  You could also cut up and/or cook the chicken earlier in the day.
  • Make it healthier by using half whole grain pasta and half regular.  I don't care for the texture of whole grain pasta, but I don't notice it as much when I mix it with regular pasta.  (Thanks to Sara J. for that tip!)
  • Linguine or thin spaghetti may be used instead of angel hair pasta.
  • This recipe yields about four servings, but is easily doubled.
  • Your kids might not like this!  Our kids will eat it, but they pick out some of the vegetables.
This recipe is was given to me by Liz Cammenga.  It can also be found in the 2004 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes cookbook, on page 99.


  1. Delicious, very easy, and the kids even ate the veggies! I used leftover cutup vegies for stromboli (pizza bread)!

  2. I make almost every other week. LOVE it!