My wife and I could not stop eating this dinner. The impetus for this dinner was to give her protein and carbs for her pre-meat dinner. I made a rigatoni in a tomato vodka sauce topped with grilled chicken. Now most people assume that this must be a really creamy sauce. My wife does not like creamy sauces. So first, I used my go to cream substitute, coconut milk and then, only used 2 – 3 tbsp to just give it a hint of creaminess. This ends up being a really light sauce but full of flavor. The chicken, prepared simply, was a good addition to provide the protein. Emeril’s recipe included sausage in the sauce which I would love but not my wife. And by the way, she swam well so it must have been my food!
Ingredients (adapted from the Food Network & Emeril Lagasse):
1/4 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 bag of spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 – 2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 – 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons vodka
2 – 3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 to 2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil leaves
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 chicken breast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside. I started cooking the noodles as the sauce was simmering so it would finish at the same time as the sauce.
Simultaneously, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When the oil is good and hot, add the onions, salt, and red pepper flakes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the spinach.
Add the vodka and cook until the sauce reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the basil and remove from the heat. To create a chiffondade for your basil, simply roll it up lengthwise, take a scissors and cut across it. Drop in the sauce and mix well. Finish by adding a good handful of the Parmesan cheese.
In another skillet, add the oil on medium high heat. When the oil is good and hot, add in the chicken. Grill a good 8 minutes on the first side. Flip the chicken and put a cover on the pan. Cook for another 8 – 10 minutes. Let sit for a good 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
Back to completing the sauce. Pour the rigatoni into the sauce and mix well. Slice the chicken and put on top of the pasta.
Serve and enjoy!