Summer Pasta

We trying to think of a name for this pasta dish that we absolutely love and Jason tossed out there “Summer Pasta”.  I thought it sounded better than what I had been calling it “Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Bacon and Chicken”. Now, I don’t believe all recipes need a cute name, but something about just listing off all the main ingredients just bugs me, especially when it’s 6 words long.

So, we thought that this is a very summery dish. Not only are the flavors very sunny, but we envision eating this A LOT during the summertime, mostly because it tastes just as delicious warm straight from the pan as it does once you leave it on the table for a little while to get to room temperature. Jason and his mom think it would be fabulous cold as well, but I’m not a fan of refrigerated pasta salad so I’m going to just exempt myself from that serving option. But you’re welcome to try it! 🙂

Anyhow, this is basically a re-vamped version of this recipe. One day we wanted something quick for dinner but we weren’t terribly starving, but we didn’t have the makings for our usual quick-serve options (quesadillas, turkey sandwiches, grilled cheese, etc.) I had the Lemon Parm Pasta set on my menu plan as a side dish for that evening, but we weren’t hungry enough for the whole meal I had planned. By a happy accident, I had some bacon browned up from a previous meal. I thought, “Yum, bacon makes everything better. I wonder what else would go well in there?” Duh, chicken! So I grabbed a few of my favorite 5-ounce pre-portioned chicken breasts from the freezer, chopped them up and cooked them in a skillet real quick while the pasta boiled away. In a flash, the sauce came together, I tossed it together and we had a fabulous meal.

Here are some details for those folks who don’t like to wing it…

Ingredients:

12-16 ounces of bacon
2 cups of chicken breasts (about 3 smallish chicken breast halves)
1 box (16 ounces) spiral pasta
1/2 cup butter (you could cut this down to 1/4 cup if you want, we like lots of butter)
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese

1. Dice up the raw bacon, then brown it in a skillet. I like dicing it first because it’s easier to cook it up that way instead of cooking the whole strips and then crumbling them later. I find that dicing it first yields me better and mostly uniform sized chunks later instead of the bacon dust that usually comes from cooking then crumbling. Anyway, do it however you like. 🙂

2. Rescue your beautiful bacon crispies from the grease with a slotted spoon and lay them on some paper towels to drain. Pour off most of the bacon grease but keep about enough to coat the bottom of the pan. If your fancy center cut, beef, or turkey bacon doesn’t leave you with much fat, then add some olive oil to the pan and warm it up.

3. Dice up your raw chicken breasts into roughly 1/2-inch pieces. Saute them in your skillet with the bacon grease (yum!). [I would suggest sprinkling them with a little salt and black pepper. I usually do, but forgot this time.] Make some space on the bacon plate and let your bite sized chicken chunks snuggle up next to the bacon for a while.

Okay, here's my meal. The rest of you can fend for yourselves. No? Alright, we'll continue.

4. Cook your spiral pasta. We’ve been enjoying the tricolor variety lately (tomato red, spinach green, and regular), but the plain pasta is good too. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you like it al dente or more tender. You could also do this step at the same time as cooking your chicken, for me it takes about the same amount of time. Drain the pasta, put it back in the hot pot, and cover it until you need it.

5. Assemble your summery sauce.
a. Melt your butter in a saucepan.
b. Saute your garlic in the melted butter. Not too much, just for a few minutes until it starts to get a little color.
c. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and until cheese is melty.

6. Uncover your pasta and pour on the warm sauce. Toss to coat.

7. Now, you could go two different ways here. You could serve it up now and top it with the chicken and bacon, or (the way I do it) toss the chicken and bacon in the pasta and serve it up that way.

Oh yeah! I'll have seconds and thirds please!!

This recipe makes about 5-6 portions. It feeds my family of four adults and two small children without any leftovers. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

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