I went into a bit of a panic when I looked into the fridge last night, and saw not much of anything! It had been a long day and was getting close to the time when tummies would start to rumble, and the grumbling would begin. To make matters worse, it had been raining incessantly for 2 days straight and I was in no mood to dash of to the shop to find an easy solution.
I found 3 chicken breasts in the freezer, and I pried them apart with a knife to get them to defrost ASAP My man Dave found one of those metal plates at some garage sale or other that speeds up the thawing process, and so I stuck the 3 lumps of chicken on and willed them to thaw!
While that was going on, I went outside (in the pelting rain!) and looked at my herbs for inspiration. I noticed a nice bunch of forgotten chives being smothered by basil on one side and my oregano bush on the other. I hadn’t remembered this poor plant all summer long. Out of sympathy and guilt I cut a big bunch and grabbed a sprig of rosemary, thinking it would punch up the flavor of any lack lustre meal?
Since the chicken was still half-frozen I decided to cut it into very thin slices which would do two things; speed up the defrosting time, and the meat would also cook in lightening speed.
What can I say? – WOW! This was a magnificent dish. Being forced into making a dinner out of necessity and desperation can produce a disaster, or, you can end up with something amazing like the dinner we ate last night. The rosemary and chicken were a perfect match, and the chives had an onion-y quality that worked with the buttery pasta.
I also threw in a diced orange tomato from my sister-in-law Beth’s garden, and it made all the difference in the world. If nothing else, this dinner proved that growing a couple of herbs in pot or in a small patch of dirt yields rewards far greater than the effort it took to stick them in the ground.
I was a little hesitant thinking that my kids might find it a little too sophisticated (for want of a better word…), but there wasn’t a scrap left between us all. It is certainly at times like this I am glad to be laboriously writing down every dinner I have made this year. This one is a gem!
You will need: 3 chicken breasts, very thinly sliced, t tsp coarse sea-salt, several grinds of black pepper, 1 small red pepper, small dice, 1 small onion, small dice, 2 small onions, halved and sliced into thin 1/2 rounds, 1 bunch chives, chopped,(1/4 cup), 1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped, 2 tbs capers, drained & very well rinsed, 4 tbs unsalted butter, 2 medium very good quality tomatoes, diced (heirloom & in-season are the best), 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 3/4 to 1 lb spaghetti, broken in half.
1 – Prep all ingredients. *to get the chicken very thin without driving you crazy, here’s what to do; stick it into the freezer for about 35 minutes or so. When it kind of stiff it cuts evenly and easily!
2 – Put a medium-sized saute pan on medium/low heat ands add 2 tbs of the butter. Add the 2 onions cut into half round slices. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until very soft and starting to brown. (They will be ready in about the time it takes to cook the rest of the dish).
3 – Add the olive oil to a big pan and turn heat to low/medium. Add the peppers and diced onion to the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the chives and rosemary and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so.
4 – Add the rest of the butter to the pan (2 tbs) and when it melts, add the chicken, salt, pepper, and the capers. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, at which time the chicken should be cooked.
5 – While chicken is cooking, put water on for pasta, and when it boils, cook pasta according to instructions. (don’t forget to break in half). When pasta is cooked, scoop out about a 1/2 cup of pasta water and reserve. When pasta is drained, immediately add to pan and stir into chicken and veggies, adding the pasta water and the sweet sautéed onions.
Serve in warm shallow bowls and add diced fresh tomatoes if you like. We had some fab tomatoes from my sister-in-law’s garden and they were sweet, fresh and the best tasting tomatoes I had tasted all summer! Also, if you want to add some snipped chives to the finished dish; go right ahead!