Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pasta Alfredo with Chicken and Vegetables

You can use leftover chicken instead of poaching a whole chicken for this recipe.  You could also incorporate leftover vegetables into it as a substitution for or addition to the vegetables I list.  Also, I must acknowledge Jeff Smith's The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines cookbook for the idea of how to poach a chicken.  I am proud to say that I obtained a locally raised chicken for this recipe, purchased right on the farm.  You can, too!  Sometimes it takes a bit of effort.  In this case, I found out about a farm in Connecticut which is actually about an hour from my house, but close to a highway exit.  I had another reason to drive on that highway, past that exit, so I took my insulated shopping bags with me and purchased lots of local meat and dairy products from the farmstand as I passed by.  I made that farmer very happy!  It took a bit of planning, I admit.  If you sometimes drive distances on a major road, you might want to research the locations of farms that have farmstands or shops on-site ahead of time.  Check out your local department of agriculture website to see if they list farms and addresses.  A local university also might maintain a list of farms and their products.  Sometimes the farms have websites that make it easy to find out what they carry and whether they have a stand.  Sometimes you have to call the farmer and ask.  It is worth your effort, to provide peace-of-mind about how your food was raised and the impact it has on our environment.

3 lb. or so roasting chicken (if you use a larger chicken it will be too heavy to lift out of the boiling water)
bunch broccoli florets (about 3 or 4 cups)
1 zucchini, cut into oblong pieces about 2 inches long
2 carrots, cut into oblong pieces about 2 inches long
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pasta, cooked

First poach the roasting chicken:  Boil a large pot of salted water (I use a  large stock pot—make sure the pot is large enough so that when you add the chicken to it, the water does not overflow) to a boil.  Lower the chicken carefully into the boiling water and cover.  When the water resumes boiling, remove the chicken using tongs and a wooden spoon and place it on a platter or in a large baking dish.  Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil again.  Use the tongs to lower the chicken into the water again.  Cover the pot.  When water resumes boiling, turn off the stove and leave the chicken in the covered pot of water for an hour.  The residual heat cooks the chicken!  What an energy-efficient way to cook!  This is green planet cooking!

After an hour, remove the chicken from the pot and let cool on a platter or baking dish.  When cool enough to handle, use your hands to tear off the cooked meat from the bone and gather it in a bowl to use for the pasta alfredo.

Meanwhile, put broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl (I use Pyrex) with a couple of tablespoons of water.  Cover and cook in microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Remove from microwave and keep cover on so it can continue to steam cook.  Put zucchini and carrots in another microwave safe bowl and cook them the same way:  add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, cook on high for 3 minutes.   Keep cover on so that vegetables can continue to steam.

Heat cream cheese and milk over medium low heat in a large, wide skillet.  Stir occasionally, so that cream cheese melts and mixture becomes a smooth, creamy sauce.  Add grated parmigiano and stir until smooth.  Add chicken and steamed vegetables and stir until mixed.  Add a little milk if sauce seems too thick.  If pan is large enough, add cooked pasta to pan and mix with sauce.  Otherwise, mix pasta and sauce together in a large bowl and serve.

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