As promised here is the recipe for one of our families staple pastas. Now please forgive me because I am by no means a professional cook or a recipe queen, so don’t go nuts if my measurements aren’t exact. My cooking style is usually just about throwing a bunch of stuff together without the measuring – all about approximates.
Pasta of your choice, the usual amount you would make for your family. Our kids love spiral noodles and we used about 250g dry noodles and have tonnes left over for lunches.
4 x chicken thigh fillets
Caribbean Jerk seasoning – that I found in woollies in the spice aisle
2x Zucchini chopped into half moons
1 x large onion
1 x large capsicum
6 x cloves of garlic (we are garlic nuts and go heavy on it)
200g bacon – cut into 1cm pieces or alternative (all meats would work well or no meat at all).
300mls of light cooking cream**** (some vegan and healthier options below)
1 x cube chicken or vegetable stock
1 x lemon
A bunch of parsley
1 x cup panko breadcrumbs
60g parmesan cheese
As much as you would like of fresh baby spinach
1. Rub the jerk seasoning onto the chicken thighs and set aside – you can pre-prepare this early for longer marinating.
2. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and bring a saucepan of water to boil.
3. While waiting chop your zucchini into half-moons if you haven’t done so already and slice the capsicums. Place on a baking tray with a small drizzle of olive oil to prevent them drying out.
4. Bake until lightly golden, about 10-20ish minutes depending on the size/ thickness of the vegetables.
5. Cook your pasta as per packet instructions – drain and rinse it.
6. While your pasta and veggies are cooking, chop the bacon, onion, mushrooms (if using) and parsley. Mince 4 x garlic cloves and Zest the lemon.
7. Cook your onions, bacon, garlic and mushrooms in a non-stick pan. When the onion starts to become slightly transparent add a splash of water to caramelise – I do this instead of adding oil to my cooking – but feel free to use olive oil if you wish. Once done set aside.
8. Put the panko crumbs into the pan and cook until golden brown – add the lemon zest and the rest of the garlic. Cook until fragrant, remove from heat and place in a bowl. Mix through the parsley and parmesan cheese once it’s cooled.
9. Fire up the BBQ and cook the chicken thighs as you normally would or can do this on a pan as well.
10. While the chicken is cooking add your bacon, onion, mushroom mixture to the pan. Add the cooking cream, crumbled stock cube and pinch of pepper. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the sauce slightly thickens – if it’s too thick just add some water.
11. Mix through the roasted zucchini, capsicum and as much spinach as you want. Now I also like to mix my pasta through the sauce at this point rather than have all the ingredients on top of it but it’s completely your choice.
12. Serve it all up into bowls and top with pieces of sliced chicken thigh, the panko bread crumb mixture and squeeze of lemon. Alternatively, you can also mix the chicken/ crumb mixture into the sauce before serving for super creamy cheesy flavour – it’s also a great way to thicken the sauce if you made it too runny. I have done it both ways before – YUMMY!
***Instead of cooking cream I have also made this with blended silken tofu (don’t knock it until you try it!). Simply blend one-part silken tofu with one-part unsweetened plant milk to create the desired “cream” amount. If you want it thick use more tofu than milk. Please know you may need to add some water to this during the cooking period in step 10 as it can be quite thick.
****Another alternative is to use about 180mls of plant-based milk to 20g nutritional yeast and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour. Mix them together in a saucepan whisking constantly until smooth and thickened then add all the veggies etc.
***the beauty of pasta is you can add virtually anything to this. Try it with peas. I have done a Mediterranean version with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, roasted eggplant, roasted capsicums and put some fresh pesto through the creamy sauce mixture. You can change chicken of chorizo or salmon.