Ryan and I are constantly looking for easy weeknight meals, but we want to use ingredients that are fresh and full of flavor – none of this boxed business for us! A challenge for expanding my fast-meal repertoire, though, is that Ryan claims that he isn’t a big pasta fan. So sad! Pasta is inexpensive, it’s easy to make and there are an endless number of variations. Of course, as any wife knows, sometimes your husband doesn’t realize how good change is until you introduce him to it!
So, I decided to try a few pasta recipes and let him decide. We started with Calico Chicken with Penne. It has both chicken and ham (great for my resident meat-eater) and lots of vegetables too, so it really is an all-in-one meal. The recipe was quick to make and we had a great leftovers for later. It won him over! After this pasta meal, Ryan decided that maybe we should give a few other pasta recipes a try too. Ah, the persuasions of the wife and a good meal!
To make Calico Chicken with Penne for your family, begin by preparing the penne pasta according to the package directions. My meal was especially "calico" since I had a little regular white penne and a little whole grain pasta on hand. I mixed them together and it was great! Honestly, in the end, you couldn’t tell that the pastas were different.
While the pasta is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients. Wash the vegetables and slice them up. Cut the thawed chicken into thin strips.
Melt butter in a 12" skillet until it begins sizzling. Then add the chicken strips. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat until it is cooked through. You’ll need to turn the chicken at least once and make sure that there is no pink left in the center.
Once the chicken is cooked, add the sliced pepper and onion to the skillet. Cover the skillet and continue cooking until the veggies are still crisp, but beginning to get tender.
Add the drained, cooked pasta, sliced ham and whipping cream to the skillet. Stir it all together and then cover the pan again. Cook for 3-5 more minutes so the ham and pasta are heated through.
Finally, add the salt, pepper, tomatoes and grated Parmesan cheese.
Use a spatula to gently "fold" the ingredients together. The cheese will begin to get nice and melty.
Now you have a beautiful array of colorful pasta! Immediately dish up the pasta and add a dash of grated Parmesan cheese on top for garnish. Serve and enjoy!
Like I mentioned, this recipe made much more pasta than Ryan and I could eat in an evening, but since we enjoyed it so much, we were able to refrigerate the rest and bring it for lunch. The pasta reheated well and the combination of chicken, ham and the variety of veggies made for a great, fast meal!
Prepare Calico Chicken with Penne, then rate and review the recipe.
Check back in a few days when Tami shares a cookie recipe that uses a favorite seasonal ingredient: pumpkin.
Amanda is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.