Lemon-Dijon Chicken Pasta
Ah, pasta. If not the very first thing you realize you will miss terribly once your celiac diagnosis is confirmed, it’s the second. What an astonishing gift Marco Polo allegedly brought back from China to Italy, and then to the rest of the world. Noodles – how can you live without them? Fact is, 20 years ago, nobody with celiac disease could ever hope to find an acceptable substitute – spaghetti night, or lasagne out with the family were all sadly mourned.
Now that the world is finally waking up to the fact that gluten is dangerous for a significant portion of the population, noodle makers have come around. First, it was the health-conscious food outlets, with rice and corn-based pastas. Those slowly migrated into the specialty food aisles of your local Co-op and Safeway. Then, the higher-end specialty foods folks came around – recognizing that people would pay more for pasta – but it had to stand on its own merits – it HAD to be as close as possible to what you remembered in your pre-celiac childhood days. And finally, the big pasta makers have come around – now the choice is truly wider, with GF versions of your favorite brands landing on our grocery store shelves. You can even get Great Value GF pasta at Wal-Mart, and that at a price which equals anything in the wheat-based noodle realm.
So – you can afford to be picky. The acid test for me? I don’t really care what it costs, first and foremost. The pasta has to taste, feel, and behave on my plate the way that any wheat pasta does. And so, after years of trial and expense, my family will go the extra mile to find Gogo Quinoa pasta. It’s white, its mouthfeel is like wheat pasta, it does not fall apart or get mushy on the outside while chewy in the inside, and no non-celiac can tell the difference.
So – when the good people at Barilla pasta contacted us at GFYYC with an offer to try some of their new pasta line in a range of our pasta recipes, I agreed. (Free pasta – why not?) I warned them – this was going to be an unvarnished comparison to my go-to Gogo, though. No worries, they said, cheerfully, and couriered me a pile of rotini, macaroni, and spaghetti.
What to do with it? My brilliant and imaginative wife to the rescue – “Make a lemon chicken to go with the rotini. We’ll see if it can stand up to that”.
So I did. And I can freely, and joyfully admit – the Barilla Gluten Free Rotini is definitely up to the job. Aside from a couple of stray thicker noodles that did not cook through, the pasta came out perfectly al dente, tasting and feeling just like its grandfather wheat version. And because this is priced to compete with all the regular pasta – you can now bet your dinner it’s worth the purchase. We’ll see in future recipes how the macaroni and spaghetti perform – but tonight, let’s make some Lemon-Dijon Chicken Pasta, with Barilla.
- 340 g Barilla Gluten Free Rotini Pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 900ml Chicken Stock (Knorr makes a delicious GF one)
- 4-6 tbsp lemon juice
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 4oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 pkg. frozen (or 1 bunch fresh) asparagus spears. Get young and tender ones, if possible. Big is not better in this case.
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp grainy dijon mustard (or use other grainy mustards – just not the North American yellow mustard)
- 2 tsp dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated asiago cheese, to garnish
- 1 whole lemon (not used in the recipe – just looks pretty)
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil.
- While the water heats up, cut up the chicken breast into bite-sized chunks.
- Pour olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, put the chicken into the pan. Add a bit of salt, pepper, and dried basil to season. Sautee until the chicken is opaque through and through. Stir in the minced garlic.
- Put the pasta into the water to boil. Stir occasionally until the rolling boil comes back, so that the pasta does not stick to the pot. Barilla claims their rotini will be ready to eat in 8-9 minutes. They are correct – I let mine go just 9 and a half, and it was perfect.
- While the chicken cooks, mix the chicken broth, cornstarch, mustard, and lemon juice. Whisk together well, and set aside.
- Cut up the asparagus spears into 2 cm pieces. Add them into the pan, and turn up the heat to 3/4. Sautee the chicken and asparagus until the veggies start to brown – not too much, just a nice light brown crisp. Turn down the heat to medium again.
- Stir up the cornstarch mixture again and pour it into the pan. Stir until it starts to boil. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens up.
- Drain the pasta.
- Grate some asiago cheese. Parmesan will work as well, but asiago balances the lemon flavor perfectly.
Plate the pasta, cover with the lemon-dijon chicken and asparagus, and sprinkle on some cheese. Serve. This one is a real winner.