Coming off a weekend filled with U10 soccer games, football games (both the kid-kind and the collegiate-kind; go Cougars!), loads of yard work, wrangling pygmy goats, entertaining friends with BBQ pork sandwiches & peach pie, family cornhole tournaments, and a crazy delicious slow cooker lasagna (which has nothing to do with anything except that I’m excited to tell you about it in greater detail later)…phew, I’m in need of another weekend.
Or if not that, please give me some super simple ways to get dinner on the table this week without losing my mind. A bonus. The not losing the mind thing.
While I hunt down other quick and easy dinner strategies, you go ahead and savor the one I’m sharing today. This creamy bowtie alfredo pasta dish is so simple and delicious, you might want to go ahead and add it to your permanent dinner rotation. Seriously. Right now. Do it. My sister-in-law, Angela, sent the recipe to me a while ago – it’s been her family’s favorite meal for years. In my current world, it’s passed the company test. The kid test. The make it three times in two weeks and still love it test. The no-fuss dinner test. Basically, it’s as tried-and-true as you can get.
And it’s a keeper. I’ve added some notes to the recipe for substitutions and ways to make it fly together (if prepped responsibly, you can have this on the table in 20-minutes or less). Enjoy, my friends, enjoy.
One Year Ago: Creamy Chicken and Quinoa Cordon Bleu Casserole
Two Years Ago: Cinnamon and Chili Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Apple Salsa
Three Years Ago: Peaches and Cream Sensation
This dish will be as delicious as the chicken you use - really. Go for a moist rotisserie chicken (with lots of flavor), or use this simple method for quick, skillet cooked chicken (season it well!), or use a delicious marinade or ample seasonings for grilled chicken. I almost always use 1% milk, but a couple times I've splurged and subbed in 1/4 cup heavy cream for 1/4 cup of the milk; it adds a little richness that is delicious (you can add more cream in place of milk to your liking).
If asparagus isn't in season or you can't get it, broccoli makes a great substitution.
The pasta is best served immediately - leftovers or pasta that has sat out for a while aren't quite as creamy (although you can rejuvenate leftovers by adding a splash of milk or cream before reheating).
- 3 cups cooked and cubed chicken (see note above for options)
- 1-2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound bowtie (farfalle) pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk (see note above)
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Zest from lemon (about a teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 6-8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles according to package directions. When there is two minutes left on the cooking time, add the asparagus to the pot and cook for the remaining time. Drain the pasta and asparagus and rinse quickly with cool water (to stop the asparagus from cooking more).
- For the sauce, while the noodles/asparagus cook, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic, cooking for 20 seconds or so, stirring constantly. Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute, stirring, until the mixture is toasty and sizzling. Gradually add the milk and chicken broth about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
- Place the pasta, chicken and asparagus in a large bowl or serving dish and pour the sauce over the top. Toss lightly to combine. Sprinkle on the bacon and additional Parmesan cheese (if using). Serve immediately.
Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe my sis-in-law, Angela, sent me for their family’s favorite meal (cut down the butter, used milk instead of heavy cream, overall just lightened it up a bit)