28 February, 2016

GF DF Chicken Bacon Garlic Spinach Spicy Penne

Yeah, the title is long, but that is what it is and I have learned the hard way (because I do it as well...) that if you don't mention in the title whether or not something is gluten free or dairy free and that is what people are searching for, you'll be a up a creek in no time with your readership.  SO there it all is, in black and white.  Dairy free, gluten free and unbelievably satisfying.  A dish the whole family will love...even the tiniest of kiddos!

There isn't much background to this recipe.  I saw it on Facebook a while back, decided to fiddle with it so I could eat it which included changing the spice/heat level to be child friendly, use almond milk and almond cheeses in the place of all of the dairy (you have NO idea how wonderful almond cheese does as mozzarella and parmesan, you just have to try it!), and sprouted grain fettuccine pasta.  The pasta is important, especially if your little's favorite thing to eat is spaghetti...using a fettuccine, linguini, or spaghetti noodle will be the difference between dinner and DUD on your dinner table.  You eat first with smell...then eyes.  Never forget that order, mouth and tummy come far after the initial seduction.  It is the same for a child as it is for an adult.  Even more so on the "eyes" portion.  Most children shy away from trying something that looks "new" or "different".  I am just DEEPLY grateful we have crossed the threshold of  the "two bites no matter what" rule with most of the littles here.  Praise to all appropriate beings that it is so......

GF DF Chicken Bacon Garlic Spinach Spicy Penne
1-3 T. garlic infused grapeseed oil
1 T. reserved bacon fat
1.5 lbs. chicken breasts, cook then cut into strips
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1 drop of oregano essential oil
1 drop of thyme essential oil
1 drop of basil essential oil
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (IF YOU DON'T HAVE OILS ONLY!)
5 med. San Marzano or Roma tomatoes, cubed
1 c. blanched spinach (can use drained, frozen if that is what you have! spinach is spinach, folks!)
5 cloves garlic, pressed (if you don't have a press, mince it)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (increase to 2 tsp. if you like heat)
5 or 6 strips of bacon (cooked, drained, and julienned (cut into thin strips) for your long noodle pairing)
1 1/4 c. almond milk
1 1/2 c. almond milk parmesan or mozzarella cheese, grated
1 box gluten free penne, cooked per box instructions
extra grated almond milk cheese for serving, optional
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

In a large skillet, on med-high heat, heat the olive and bacon oils until they crackle well. Toss together in a small bowl the paprika, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper then sprinkle HALF of it on the tops of your chicken breasts.  Add the chicken SEASONED SIDE DOWN to the warm oiled pan and cook on one side on med-high heat for 1 minute. While it is cooking, sprinkle the uncooked sides facing you with the other half of the paprika, sea salt, and fresh cracked black pepper mixture. Flip the chicken over, and cook on the other side for 1 minute on high heat. Reduce heat to med-low, flip chicken over again and cook, covered, for several minutes until no longer pink in the center (you'll have to slice it and check...better safe than pukin yer guts out!). Remove chicken from the pan and keep chicken warm by setting it in the microwave or covering it with foil until it has rested at least the same amount of time it took to cook it or until .

To the same pan (with the chicken drippings, etc), add your chopped tomatoes, blanched spinach, pressed/minced garlic, crushed red pepper, 1/3 of the chicken, julienned and HALF of your bacon (already cooked, drained and julienned). Toss everything with tongs in your pan to gently mix it.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta of MOST of the water and put it back into the pot you boiled it in.  While it is still warm, drizzle 1 T. of olive oil on the pasta and toss the pasta in the oil...this will prevent it from sticking together as it waits to be added to the sauce.

Add your almond milk and bring pan to a low boil. Only after half and half starts boiling, add grated almond cheese, then immediately to a simmering heat, allowing the cheese to melt and the sauce appears to be thickening and becoming more creamy, it should only take a minute or 2.  Remove sauce from the heat.  Check the flavor, add more sea salt if necessary but leave the decision for more fresh cracked pepper to your dinner guests/family.  NOW is the time to add the essential oils to the sauce.  ONE drop of each oregano, thyme, and basil.  Never boil essential oils it destroys their properties.  Heat does activate them but heating them to a boiling temperature ruins their molecular structure.  If you are too paranoid to add this to the warm sauce, instead mix these three oils with the 1 T. of olive oil that you drizzle on your noodles.  That will surely not ruin the properties of these beautiful oils!  Also....it will make your noodles stand out on their own in the dish rather than them disappearing into the mix.  Your decision!

Add your pasta to the skillet of sauce. Add remaining julienned bacon, season with more salt if necessary. Slice the remaining 2/3 of chicken into thin strips. To serve, top the pasta with chicken strips and grated almond cheese, if desired.

 I'll keep this short and sweet...  It was perfection on a plate!  Veggies, creamy sauce even without any dairy anywhere near the plate, and succulent, wonderfully seasoned chicken with gluten free penne...all the parts of the pyramid covered all in less than 30 minutes!  I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we all did...wasn't a speck left on any plate.  That's quite the success in this household these days.