I have this favorite recipe that I have been making for years.
It is a great date meal.
Penne with smoked salmon in vodka cream sauce.
One of these days I will post that recipe here.
For tonight, I am posting a variation of it I made for dinner.
I did not follow the recipe to the letter, I just went by memory on some things and the rest was pure experimentation.
For example, the original recipe has penne and vodka and cream and Parmesan cheese, as does this recipe.
But that is about where the commonalities end.
One of these days I will post the original recipe. It's really a great dish. And easy.
Now, let's see if I can remember what I did and if I can read the notes I was making as I cooked.
This recipe might be a little more free-form than normal.
Penne in vodka cream sauce with asparagus and grilled chicken (serves 2)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
white balsamic vinegar
dried herb mix, whatever is your favorite
Sprinkle chicken with herb mix and salt
Coat in olive oil
Drizzle on a little of the white balsamic vinegar
I let this sit about 30 minutes while I chopped the veggies for the pasta and let the grill heat up.
Just before I started cooking the sauce, I put the chicken on the grill and cooked it until done. This will depend on the size of the pieces. I didn't really time it. They were done before the sauce, which took about 15 minutes to cook. I just took them off the grill and let them rest.
So, about those veggies and the sauce...
for the pasta and sauce:
Penne pasta, whatever brand you like
Cook your penne according to package directions, drain and set aside
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced then cut into smaller pieces. Not exactly minced, but not long strands. About 1/4 - 1/2 inch long pieces
3 cloves garlic chopped, but not minced too finely
15-20 asparagus spears washed and broken in to 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced. I used the stuff in the jar. Just make sure to get the kind packed in water, not vinegar.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried tarragon or whatever herb you like, then more to make it to your taste
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in medium heat in a large sautee pan.
Add onion, garlic, asparagus and red pepper.
Cook about 5 minutes.
Add dried tarragon or other herb.
Cook about 5 more minutes to let the alcohol burn off.
Add the cream and Parmesan cheese and let cook until it starts to thicken just a bit, maybe 5 more minutes.
To serve I put some pasta on the plate, spooned the sauce with veggies over it and then topped it with slices of the grilled chicken.
It was great.
I think it would have been good without the chicken. With the veggies and the cream sauce this was a pretty filling dish. And using peas instead of asparagus would be good.
Or tomato instead of red pepper.
Or pretty much whatever you like. Ahhh, the beauty of experimenting.
Go on, play with your food!
So, that is it. My experimental dinner.
It is fun to try new stuff. And even better when it doesn't suck.