I am officially sharing with you one of my absolute favorites. I started making this dish when Michael and I first got married, which happened to be the year I started teaching. It was one of those dishes that made him think, “Yes, marrying Autumn was the best decision of my life. She may be singing alphabet songs, crying, making piles of weird animal cutouts, crying, venting about kids not holding their bladders, crying, racking up library fines for the countless books she checks out and loses, crying, chanting rhymes, and crying… but she sure can make a good pasta.” At least this is what I imagine he was thinking. Can you tell it was a rough year? We made it through that first year, but sometimes the only thing saving our day was a good comfort meal at the end of it.
…followed by me most likely crying again.
This was one of those. Over the years, I’ve changed it up a bit. Adding bits of love here and there. A splash of wine (why not?), some pancetta I had on hand (why not?), extra garlic (naturally), pine nuts…. all good things that always felt comforting and right at the end of a day.
Pasta With Chicken, Pancetta, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach and a Lemony White Wine Mascarpone Sauce
Adapted from italianfoodforever.com. I changed this already fabulous dish by adding pancetta, more garlic, pine nuts, and white wine. How could ANY of those ingredients hurt a thing?!
- 1 package bow tie pasta
- 3- 4 oz pancetta, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 1″ cubes
- Olive Oil
- 5-6 garlic cloves, minced (if that’s too much for you, you can tone in down)
- 1 small tub mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
- zest & juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup white wine (+ 1… maybe 2… glasses for your personal enjoyment)
- 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 bunch of spinach, roughly chopped
- shredded parmesan, pine nuts, and chopped fresh basil (for serving)
1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. When the water is nice and ready, throw in your pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and let it hang out until you are ready to put the whole thing together.
2.Heat a very small drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Toss in the pancetta pieces and cook until just getting a bit crisp.
3. While the pancetta is cooking, cube the chicken and sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper.
4. When the pancetta is ready, remove the pieces from the pan and place the bits on a paper towel to drain. Turn the heat up to medium and throw the chicken pieces into the pancetta fat. (Please do this. The pancetta fat adds a wonderful smokiness to the chicken that you won’t want to miss!) Toss the chicken around until it is cooked through and beginning to brown on the edges.
5.In the last couple of cooking the chicken, add your minced garlic. Cook this with the chicken for 1-2 minutes until it’s nice and fragrant.
6. Combine the zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, wine, and pepper in a bowl, and whisk to combine.
7. Return the pasta to the pot, and set over medium heat. Stir in the mascarpone mixture along with the chicken, pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach. Toss all the ingredients together until the spinach has wilted and everything is nice and hot.
8. Serve topped with a little parmesan lovin’ and sprinkle of pine nuts and fresh basil.