Last weekend I was craving pasta like a mad woman. Nothing else would have satisfied me other than a steaming hot plate of Italian noodles with some sort of creamy sauce poured all over and in it. So I headed over to Trader Joe’s and began wandering around their dried pasta section when my eyes fell upon a package of orecchiette pasta. I’d never had orecchiette before, but always thought it’d be great for saucy pasta dishes since they’re basically like little scoop-bowls. So I picked up a package, came home, and decided to make a creamy rosemary lemon sauce for it (one of my co-workers had brought in several dozens of lemons to work from their lemon tree and I had smuggled a few back home). Instead of using a heavy cream base for the sauce, I tried to make it healthier by using olive oil, 1% milk, and whisking in a tablespoon of flour. Then I melted in a tablespoon of goat cheese towards the end of the preparation to help thicken it. Once I finished preparing the dish, which was wonderfully simple to do, I tried it, and loved it. And I mean loved. Jeremy tried some too and loved it as well. It was basically just a big pasta-y lemon-y love fest. So if you like pasta, lemons, rosemary, cream sauces, or some combination of the former, I really recommend giving this a try.
Heat the olive oil and minced garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breast pieces and lemon juice and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked all the way through, (this should be checked but cutting one of the larger cubes in half to peek inside). Remove the chicken from the pan using a slotted spoon so that the olive oil and garlic remain in the pan.
Lower the heat. Stir in the chicken broth, milk, grated lemon rind, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the rosemary. Once the mixture is hot, but not boiling, sprinkle the tablespoon of flour over the mixture and whisk it in. Continue whisking the sauce until the flour is fully incorporated and there aren’t any flour chunks. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the pasta.
Prepare the orecchiette pasta according to the package directions. I recommend adding a teaspoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water you boil the pasta in. While the pasta is cooking, add the chicken pieces and goat cheese to the lemon sauce and stir until the goat cheese is completely melted and incorporated into the mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside. Once the orecchiette is cooked all the way through, strain it and drizzle some olive oil over it, stirring it a bit in the strainer, to help keep the pasta from getting stuck to each other.
Pour the orecchiette into a large bowl and add the lemon sauce and
chicken, garnish with the grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese and the remaining teaspoon of
rosemary. Serve immediately.