Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Penne with Chicken, Spinach and Feta Cheese

This doesn't sound appealing to me in the least. But the quest to try every recipe out of this magazine is starting to leave me in a bind, as I'd not saved any of the "best" for last. Feta and lemon? I just don't know about this one.

Using the last of the box, I increased the pasta quantity by an ounce, from 4 to 5. No other changes were made.

Penne with Chicken, Spinach and Feta Cheese
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

5 oz. penne (tube-shaped pasta)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 (5-oz.) bag baby spinach (5 cups)
3/4 c crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c lemon juice
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; heat until hot.

Add chicken, onion, salt and black pepper; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned, no longer pink in center and onion is soft.

My pasta wasn't close to being done yet, so I had to take the skillet off the heat and wait.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of skillet, adding additional pasta water if necessary.

Add spinach; stirring 1 minute or until wilted.

Stir in pasta, cheese, lemon juice and crushed red pepper. Cook 30 to 60 seconds or until cheese is slightly melted, stirring constantly.

There is some doubt about the source of the saltiness. It could be because I used too much salt in the pasta water. Or it could be the feta. Regardless, the saltiness was like a kick in the face. Meanwhile, the lemon took a turn beating the crap out of my taste buds. Then, everything seemed to come together a little bit. Much different from what I tend to favor (think sweet and spicy), I wouldn't say this is bad. It's just not my thing.

Will I ever make this again? No. If I did, I'd be sure not to start cooking the chicken until the pasta is nearly done. And I'd cut the feta and lemon in half. It's twangy. And I'd double the red pepper for more zing. I'm really, really, really glad I used 5 oz of penne. I wish I'd used a whole box. Even still, I have a lot left.

  • penne: $0.96
  • olive oil: $0.48
  • boneless skinless chicken breasts: $1.96
  • onion: $0.25
  • baby spinach: $2.99
  • feta cheese: $1.68
  • lemon juice: $0.34
Total: $8.66 or about $4.33 for each of two too-big servings.