Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Primavera (Gluten Free)

I came up with this easy chicken primavera several weeks ago. I love the concept of this simple meal made with fresh or leftover chicken (I usually make it with leftovers). It is very easy to prepare on my stovetop in my large, enameled, cast iron dutch oven. (A recent birthday present from my sweetie!) I've made this easy, yummy dish several times since, and I'm looking forward to it again this week!

One of the best things about being gluten free is that I learned how to make a roux. Basically, a roux can be the base of a creamy sauce, soup, gravy, etc... A roux is so easy and so helpful in cooking. I like knowing that I no longer have to depend on a can of Campbell's soup to make a meal. I am able make that "can of cream soup" all by myself, and it's so much better than the "can" ever was!

For a great picture tutorial on how to properly make a gluten free roux (for a mushroom cream soup), see Mary Frances' lesson.

If you haven't yet made a roux, you need to! It is a great cooking skill to learn, it is very simple, and you can use it as the base of so many different meals!

The roux in this meal uses very little "flour." It uses only 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch (or arrowroot flour, or sweet rice flour: use the gluten free thickening agent you prefer) to make the base of the cheese sauce for the chicken, pasta, and vegetables. If you precook your noodles and defrost your vegetables ahead of time, this dish can be prepared very quickly!

Cheesy Chicken Pasta Primavera

6 oz. uncooked gluten free spaghetti or other thin pasta
2 cups low-fat milk (I use reconstituted evaporated milk)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp. cornstarch (or arrowroot starch, or sweet rice flour)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. white wine
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen California vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots), defrosted
2-3 cups chicken, cooked and cubed
3 Tbsp. fresh parmesan cheese
3 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

Break spaghetti into 2-3 inch pieces and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed cast iron pan or Dutch oven melt butter. Whisk in crushed garlic. Whisk in cornstarch until thoroughly combined with butter and garlic into a soft paste. Slowly whisk in milk. Add lemon juice, white wine, basil, salt, and pepper. On med. heat, whisk constantly for about 6-8 minutes until milk is creamy and saucy. Whisk in cheese. When cheese has fully melted and incorporated into the sauce, add vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in cooked chicken and heat through. Drain spaghetti and add to chicken mixture. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon. Serve immediately! Makes 4-5 large servings. A simple salad goes well with this meal!

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Unfortunately, due to time restraints and illness, the Gluten Free Grill has been put on hold until April!

We will have a fantastic interview with our secret grill victim in about 2 weeks so please stay tuned!

Check back later this week for a delicious, healthy, and easy carrot cake!

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