Happy Tuesday! I’ve been nursing a sore throat since last week and running errands so I haven’t been able to work out yet this week. That makes me kind of mad but I know I need to rest because we have a big weekend coming up ahead of us and I definitely don’t want to be sick for that! More on this to follow later 🙂
In the meantime, have a gander at this chill chicken spaghetti I made last week! It’s something I threw together super quickly and it’s so yum!
When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of spaghetti (aren’t most kids?) and spaghetti bolognese in particular. It was a running joke with my family that whenever we’d eat out, I’d inevitably order the spaghetti bolognese. I didn’t care as I loved it so much and it was the one dish that never disappointed wherever we’d go. I remembered always ordering this whenever we went out to Swensen’s for a Sunday family dinner treat. Does anyone remember Swensen’s? It’s a chain of ice-cream restaurants that also served meals and I remember loving the old-fashioned ice-cream parlour-like atmosphere of the place with its stained glass windows and wooden panelling interiors when I was a kid. Of course, the fact that we’d get ice-cream for dessert after dinner probably had something to do with my love of Swensen’s too! My favourite as a kid was the Rocky Road ice-cream – or plain old chocolate. You can never go wrong with that. Spaghetti bolognese and ice-cream after – it was awesome!
My love of spaghetti never waned as I grew up – it’s so easy to make, it was one of the first things I learned to cook along with fried eggs. While in high school, my sister and I would stay up late, making a quick and easy meal of spaghetti with peas, corn and carrots (thawed from a frozen mix pack), spaghetti tomato sauce out of a jar and lots and lots of grated mozzarella melted over the top. We’d then eat this while watching episodes of David Letterman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers (loved Diana Rigg as Emma Peel!).
I still eat lots of pasta now, though I try to make healthy combinations of pasta dishes these days! I don’t consider it an unhealthy or bad dish to have if you don’t stuff yourself with it or put heavy amounts of cream and cheese on. Once, during student housing days in uni, I was sitting in the kitchen with some girlfriends and this other friend, a guy who grew up in Milan. We were talking about spaghetti and eating healthy and Tomas commented that he didn’t understand why so many people outside of Italy seemed to have this conception that spaghetti was unhealthy and made you fat. “We Italians eat pasta every day and we don’t get fat!” Naturally, us girls could hardly believe this and we questioned him over it. He couldn’t really give an answer as to why pasta didn’t seem to make Italians fat, but he supposed it was because they didn’t eat crazy sized portions of it and because they didn’t fill up their pasta dishes with processed additives and the like, nor did Italians eat lots of processed foods otherwise. It was such an eye opener for us, having that conversation.
The memory of that conversation would stick in my head later when I went to Italy for the first time about a year ago. I swear, I was putting on weight just from a couple of days of nonstop eating pasta and pizza in Rome and yet everywhere we went, the Italian girls were slim and gorgeous. How did they do this?!? That was when I remembered Tomas’s comments and concluded it must be true that perhaps Italians didn’t grow fat on pasta because they didn’t gorge themselves on it and made their pasta with fresh, unprocessed ingredients. (If any Italians can shed more light on this, please, please let me know!)
In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my pasta dishes but do my best to create healthy pasta concoctions and also, to eat in moderation – something that’s really hard when it tastes so good! And this chill chicken spaghetti is just one of these recipes. It is a really tasty light dish – the chili, garlic and lemon add lots of taste. I used one of the lemons from our tree in the backyard and it was juicy, sun-warmed and perfect. We’re totally spoiled for lemons with our tree!
Finally, this recipe does use butter but as with pasta, I believe all things in moderation will do no harm and so a little butter every now and then in a healthy meal is all right. However, if you are truly concerned with this, I suggest substituting the butter with olive oil.
Chili Chicken Spaghetti
- Two chicken breasts
- 250 grams of spaghetti
- One large red chili
- One clove of garlic
- One bunch of asparagus
- One punnet of cherry tomatoes
- One punnet of Swiss mushrooms
- One large lemon
- One generous wedge of butter
- Italian seasoning and cracked pepper
Wash and pat dry chicken breasts, then dice into bite-sized pieces.
Heat a little oil in a large pan. Mince or crush the garlic and add to the pan. Let cook until fragrant.
Add the chicken to the pan. Stir-fry until chicken is thoroughly browned on the outside.
While chicken is browning, wash the asparagus, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms, halve the cherry tomatoes and chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Once chicken is browned through, add the mushrooms, tomatoes and asparagus to the pan. Deseed and chop the chill into thin slices and add to the pan.
Stir to combine and continue to let cook until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. In the meantime, prepare spaghetti according to directions. Drain spaghetti and add to the pan, combining ingredients thoroughly. Turn the heat down to low and add the butter wedge to the dish, stirring so melted butter is distributed thoroughly through the pasta. Slice lemon in half and squeeze the juice directly into the pan over a fork or spatula to ensure no seeds fall into the dish. Add Italian seasoning and cracked pepper and stir well to combine.
Serve and enjoy!