Rigatoni a la Giada
It’s no secret that I have a girl crush on Giada de Laurentiis. I would probably even give her most of the credit (the remainder of the credit can be split between The Boy and my dad) for getting me started with cooking. Sure, at the age of 26 I knew how to use a rice cooker, make a salad and open a can of soup but I didn’t have a general appreciation for taking ingredients and throwing them together and coming up with an enjoyable meal.
Now at 30, I have it.
As psycho as it sounds, I remember turning on the Food Network to see this gorgeous woman throw together some pasta concoction. And then she went on to use a recipe with a whole lotta butter. And the same recipe using a whole lotta cheese. Holy cow (pun intended). I was hooked. And completely and totally infatuated. But along the way I also learned a few things from her, like the necessity of salting boiling water before cooking pasta (a big “duh” to me now but not back then), reserving pasta water when cooking (helps to bind the recipe together!) and that although a stick of butter doesn’t impact her figure, it probably would mine! And my love for Giada only clicked when I found Caputos – an Italian grocery store that I frequent near work. It was easy for me to find these ingredients she talked about a lot on her show (e.g. prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, etc.). And the selection of pasta is huge! Whenever I stop in, I pick up a bag of pasta and a can of peeled tomatoes. A good Italian girl, like myself (ha), will always stuff like that on hand.
Well, last night was a late night. After work, I came home and walked Giada (the Saint Bernard, not the cook) before heading off to orientation for her obedience classes, which start next week. (Yay.)
The Boy had grilled chicken for dinner while I was at orientation (only one of us had to go). Awww, so sweet. But since we didn’t really have lunch made up for the next day, I decided to expand the chicken from a quick bite of dinner into lunch. Although I made this recipe up along the way, I call this recipe Rigatoni a la Giada because I learned most of what I know about Italian cooking from the chef (but also because if Giada the Saint Bernard wasn’t around, I probably wouldn’t have come up with this quick & easy meal).
To both of my Giadas!
The Boy’s Reaction: “I really love pasta!”
Rigatoni with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Chicken
16 oz rigatoni pasta (or whatever pasta you want to use)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken, cooked and shredded (I used chicken breast)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (fresh works better!)
1/4 cup milk (non-dairy milk works well in this recipe)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes(adjust to preference)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (adjust to preference)
few dashes of pepper (adjust to preference)
Cook rigatoni pasta until almost al dente. At this point, heat pan and add 2 tablespoons of the oil packed with the sun-dried tomatoes as well as 2 tablespoons of regular olive oil. When hot, add garlic and stir. When garlic is golden brown, add al dente pasta (do not discard water). Stir until covered with contents in the pan. Add chicken, basil and red pepper flakes. Stir for about 5 minutes. Add milk. When the milk is nearly evaporated, add sun-dried tomatoes. Stir for about 2 minutes. If at any point, more liquid is needed use the reserved pasta water. Add salt and pepper, adjust according to taste. Remove from heat and serve.
So. Simple. So. Good.