March 18, 2012

Black and Blue Pasta

My husband and I really don't go out to eat that often-when you enjoy cooking as much as I do, any night eating out is one less to try some new awesome recipe! :)   Only those of you who truly love to cook will understand this, some would think I'm crazy, but then again, I can't understand how anyone can have an aversion to being in the kitchen!  Then on the economical side of things, I'm constantly thinking, I know I could make this for a fraction of the price!  But once in a while, it's fun to have a great meal made for you, especially for a special occasion.  The other thing I keep in mind when we go out is I never like to order anything that I could easily make at home-it's fun to try something new!  Well, the first time we went to the Blue Water Grill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we both ordered this incredible pasta-it's one of their signature dishes and I can see why!  I've never had anything so delicious-all the flavors go so well together.  I was raving to our waitress about how awesome the dinner was and told her about my cooking site, and would you believe the chef was kind enough to share how she made it?  This is basically how it is at the restaurant only I lightened it up a bit.  When you're cooking at home and you have the nutrition information on the labels right in front of you it really makes you think!  There are a few steps in the process, but it's worth it!  It's what I call one of those "gourmet" pasta dishes.  

Chicken Marinade
1 cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cajun Spice Blend
1/2 tablespoon table salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or aleppo pepper flakes

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter

Blue Cheese White Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons half and half
1-1/2 cups low fat milk
4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (more or less)

1 pound fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 small sun dried tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces farfalle (bow tie) pasta

In a medium bowl, combine water, lime juice, soy sauce and Worcestershire; whisk well.  Add the chicken breasts to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight.  In a small bowl, combine the Cajun spices together and set aside.  After the chicken has marinated, preheat a skillet, (cast iron works great) over medium-high heat.  You will also want to preheat your barbecue grill to medium-high.  Now remove chicken from the marinade and sprinkle a teaspoon of the spice blend over one side of each chicken breast.  Be sure to cover the entire surface with spice.  Melt the butter in the hot pan, then place chicken in pan, spiced side down.  Sear for 2-3 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, sprinkle another teaspoon all over the top.  Flip the chicken over and sear for another 2-3 minutes.  The surface should be coated with a charred, blackened coating.  Mine never got that black, probably because I had too many chicken breasts in the pan (still awesome flavor though).  Now finish the chicken off on your grill, about 2-3 minutes per side until thoroughly cooked.  When your chicken is done, place on a cutting board and set aside.  Cook pasta according to directions.  While pasta is cooking, simmer the asparagus pieces in a large saucepan with a little water.  Cook just until tender and it's still a vibrant green.  Drain and set aside.  Melt the butter for the white sauce in a medium pan, over medium heat.  Add the 2 tablespoons flour and whisk well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn heat down to medium low.  Add the half and half in a steady stream while whisking constantly.  Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, and heat until thickened.  Add the blue cheese and stir to melt.  (I used approximately 4 tablespoons-the sauce at the restaurant was a little stronger and richer, it was very good, but I was trying to watch the fat).  Finally, add the cooked asparagus and the chopped sun dried tomatoes to the blue cheese sauce.  Drain pasta and add to sauce; combine well.  Slice cooked chicken into thin strips; divide pasta onto two plates and top with chicken slices.    Serves 2 very hungry people!  :)

recipe adapted and used with permission from Blue Water Grill

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