Tuesday dinner: Pasta with mushrooms, onions and goat cheese

Truth be told, I don’t remember where I got this recipe. I come up with very few original dishes. If there is something in particular I want to eat (chicken cacciatore, for instance), I will skim the interwebs for ideas and come up with my own take on it. Most of the time, it works. Every so often, it fails miserably. In the case of tonight’s dinner, I have no clue. I remember making this dish in the past, but I don’t remember its origin or my first attempt.

What I do know is that a) I really like this dinner, but b) I don’t make it all that often because c) the goat cheese is really fattening. This last point saddens me because I love goat cheese; a fact for which I’m pretty sure I can blame my friend Allison (she of the tattered Silver Palate cookbook and dislike for Washington, D.C.). She inevitably cooks something with goat cheese when we get together and I, inevitably, make a complete pig of myself eating every last crumble. It is not much different when goat cheese is on the menu at home. Tonight, I dumped the cheese in the pasta bowl, tossed it with the rest of the ingredients, and then used a spoon to scrape out the remaining bits of cheese from the dish it was on.

The cool part about this dish is how the flavors come together. The salty, rich goat cheese, blends nicely with that earthly flavor from the mushrooms, which complements the sweetness of the sauteed onions. All of this, plus the chicken and pasta (Side note: Bon Appetit has a great article this month on preparing pasta. It’s a little highbrow, but one of the major points is that you can never oversalt your pasta water. “The noodles absorb water as they cook, so you’re actually seasoning the interior of an otherwise bland starch. Mark Ladner, executive chef at Del Posto in New York City, says the water should taste ‘almost as salty as seawater.'” And never, ever add oil to the pasta water. I don’t care what Giada says. All the oil does is make for greasy pasta that doesn’t cook correctly. If you can’t afford a $5 wooden spoon to keep the pasta from sticking, just go to The Olive Garden and get it over with.) make for a wildly flavorful dish. Recipe after the jump

The major players in this dish

Pasta with Mushrooms, Onions and Goat Cheese
By Jared Paventi

  • Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • Pan-searing flour
  • 1 pound penne, farfalle or other spoon-sized dry pasta
  • Three portobello mushroom caps, stemmed, tops cleaned, sliced and then halved
  • One medium cooking onion, sliced thin
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tb olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil for your pasta.
  2. Heat a large skillet on high. When sufficiently hot, add 1 tb of olive oil. Dredge your chicken breasts in the flour and shake off the excess flour. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken breasts and cook 4-5 minute each side until well-browned. Remove from heat and set aside on a covered plate.
  3. Add salt and pasta to the boiling water and cook to the directions on the package (my guess is 9-10 minutes)
  4. Add your second tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the onions. Cook 2-3 minutes at medium-high, or until the pan has deglazed. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking or burning.
  5. Slice your chicken breasts lengthwise then halve. When the mushrooms lose their water, (mushrooms will eventually expel all of their trapped water…you’ll eventually look over and see liquid in the pan that you did not add) add the chicken to the pan and toss.
  6. Using a ladle, scoop about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of water into a bowl and reserve. Drain the pasta, add it to the pan and toss. Add the pasta water to the pan. When the water bubbles, remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
  7. Add the crumbled goat cheese to the bowl. Toss and serve hot.
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