Creamy Lemon Bacon Chicken Pasta

It was a rite of passage this past weekend for our daughter with the high school prom.  She’s been to friends proms in the past but this was the first for her high school.  I have to say, proms have come a long way since I last had to worry about prom.  It’s much more inclusive and more often than not, groups of students go as friends rather than missing out because a date couldn’t be found.  Way better!

My daughter had a few friends over to get ready before her date showed up.  I did my first ever updo.  It came out ok, phew!  It was lovely to see that all the girls dressed in elegant dresses, no hoochie mamas.  Some of the dresses I’ve seen in the past few years leave little to the imagination.  Thankfully that trend wasn’t to prevalent this time round.

Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we just did photos round the house.  The weather did bring in some cooler weather which called for comfort food!  I saw a recipe calling for bacon and mushroom in a cream sauce.  That sparked an idea.  Lemon and grilled chicken would be a great addition.

I kept the marinade for the chicken very simple.  With a ratio of about 2:1 olive oil to lemon juice, whisk those together with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and marinate for a couple of hours.

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When it’s time to cook up the dinner, grill the chicken and cook up the pasta.  Cut into small squares, 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon.  Start cooking the bacon in a large skillet.  Slice a few mushrooms and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic.  Sauté the ingredients with the bacon.  Add a handful of fresh thyme.

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When the bacon is nearly cooked add 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  You want this to be really lemony at this point so the brightness isn’t lost in the cream and pasta.  Bring this to a simmer then add a 1/3 cup/3oz of heavy cream.  Cook on low until the chicken and pasta are done cooking.

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Slice the chicken and add that and the pasta to the skillet and stir well.  Right before serving add a bunch of arugula or spinach and let wilt.

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Serve and grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.

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Comfort food with the lightness of lemon, great for a cool spring night.

Arugula Pesto with Balsamic Grilled Steak

One thing I like about living in this area is that we have a great community with people coming together.  One person who does a ton in this town is Luca who owns a fabulous restaurant a short walk from our home.  His children also go to the same school as my son and Luca has been wonderful in supporting our PTA activities.  We got to chatting recently and I mentioned how much our daughter loves to cook and he thought it would be great for her to be on his local cooking show.  How cool is that?  She is very excited about that prospect!  Of course I checked out the show and found a fabulous recipe and asked if I could feature it on my blog and here we are.  🙂

Here is a link to his show A Culinary Journey and the recipe I’m featuring is the salmon dish near the bottom of the screen.  Now you’ve probably noticed that I am not making a salmon dish.  Try as my husband might he just can’t develop a taste for fish.  And he has tried.  So I thought this would be perfect with a nice grilled steak.  I kept the steak simple with a garlic balsamic marinade.  Just the balsamic, chopped garlic, and olive oil.  Salt and pepper the steak and add to the marinade about an hour ahead of time.

I had a tough time finding arugula as the season has been weird so I had to get some at the co-op.  And the only hazelnuts I could find had the skins on them.  I’ve never cooked with hazelnuts but I knew I didn’t want the skins.  After a bit of research on the internet I found a few tips pointing to the same technique.

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Boil a couple of cups of water.  Then add 3 T of baking soda.  It will foam up quite a bit.  Boil the hazelnuts for about 3 minutes then plunge in cold water.

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It’s messy but the skins come off easily.

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Next the hazelnuts need to be roasted.  Everyone says when roasting nuts to roast until you get a nice nutty smell.  I don’t have a sense of smell.  So I had to keep a close eye on them because you don’t want to burn them, just get them golden.

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While they are roasting, and that doesn’t take too long, prep the rest of the pesto.  In a food processor throw in a couple of handfuls of arugula.

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Add about 1/2 cup of parmesan, a good pinch of sea salt, and then pulse it to blend.  Add the hazelnuts.

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Pulse to blend then as you are processing drizzle the olive oil in to bring it all together.  Add a bit at a time until you get the right consistency.  You don’t want it dry but you don’t want it goopy either.

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To add a bit of brightness I added a bit of lemon juice as well.

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I grilled up the steak and while it was resting I added a few drops of real balsamic vinegar to give the flavours more depth.

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To serve I sliced the steak then grated parmesan over the meat.  Then I added the pesto to the steak.  I served this with roasted potatoes and corn.

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This can be a bit strong for people so be careful how much you put on their dish.  I loved the strong flavour but my husband, while he really liked it, wanted a bit less on the steak.  Overall we’ll be having it again though.  🙂