Recipe: Lemon Chicken and Asparagus Pasta with a Creamy Goat Cheese Sauce

Yes, yes, I know…this sounds a whole lot like a recipe I shared just a little while ago, and really, it’s kind of like that recipe, version 2.0. While that recipe was chicken-less and could be pulled together in less than 20 minutes, last night’s meal had a little more going on: an actual sauce (as opposed to just straight, melted goat cheese with some seasoning), marinated chicken, and a little extra flavor.

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 15 minutes (plus at least 2 hours for the chicken to marinate)
Cooking time: 10-20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch wide, 2 inch long slices
  • 8 oz. rotini, or other short pasta (penne, farfalle, or gemelli would work well)
  • 1/2 or a whole bunch of asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup lemon-based marinade or dressing to use to marinate the chicken (I had a lemon-thyme dressing from a favorite restaurant in North Carolina, but you can use something from your local grocery store)* 
  • Olive oil, enough to lightly coat the bottom of a pan
For the sauce
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. white wine (cooking wine is fine)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. chives, finely chopped
  • Dried sage, to taste
  • Dried thyme, to taste
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4-6 oz. soft goat cheese (buy a log of cheese rather than crumbles, because the log, when pulled apart, will melt better and faster)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Cornstarch and water mixture to thicken, as needed

*If you don’t have a marinade or dressing, whisk a teaspoon each of thyme, sage, salt, and pepper together with a few tablespoons each of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and white wine to create a quick marinade from scratch.

Directions
Place sliced chicken into a medium bowl with store bought or homemade marinade/dressing and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours (any less, and it just won’t have a lot of flavor).
In a small pot over medium heat, whisk together the olive oil, chicken broth, and white wine and cook until reduced by about 1/2. Add in the garlic (if you want, you can lightly saute it first, then add it in), chives, lemon zest, and seasonings (thyme, sage, etc.). Crumble the goat cheese into the mixture and whisk it in until it’s melted and combined. Slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly as you add it in. Season more as needed, then reduce heat to low. If the sauce seems thin, add a little cornstarch-and-water mixture to thicken it. In the meantime, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. When the pasta has about 5 minutes left, add the asparagus to the pot and cook the two together until the timer runs down. While the pasta and asparagus are cooking, heat a little olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add the chicken slices and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Season as needed. When the pasta and asparagus are done, drain and return to the pot, then toss the mixture with the finished goat cheese sauce. Add in the chicken, and toss to combine. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh basil or chives if desired.

This dish is light, fresh, and flavorful—perfect for a warm day or a quick weeknight meal. Lemon and goat cheese are a match made in heaven, and the addition of herbs and white wine help accentuate the flavors. Tender chicken and crisp asparagus add texture and flavor to the dish and help round it out.

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