15 May 2012

Green Goddess Pasta & Parmesan Baked Chicken

Avocados are nature's butter.  Pretty much anything you would ever think of topping with a pat of butter, I counter you with a hunk of avocado.  Smear it on any carb and you have a delicious and far more nutritious fat source.  It's amazing on biscuits, burritos, eggs, chickpea salads, guacamole....you can mash it, slice it, dice it or serve it whole.  I love the stuff.

A few years ago, the hubs read somewhere that avocado makes an excellent substitute for another fatty pasta friend (or fiend)...alfredo.  Buttery, creamy and full of flavor, this sauce is great for the tummy but not for the body.   So we decided to give avocado a go.  The result?  Buttery, creamy and full of flavor, but great for the body and totally natural.  It doesn't give me the stomach ache that I often get after a rich sauce and doesn't leave you feeling heavy.  Plus, it packs a ton of omega-3's which are needed in every American's (or Canadian's!) diet.

Have I mentioned my husband is Canadian?  I'm an sucker for a man with an accent....aye?

Now pasta is not typically seen in the summer unless its in a cold salad.  But a) its technically not summer and b) this dish is so light and refreshing, it's the perfect pasta dinner for hot weather.  Lots of lemon and garlic brighten the avocado, and artichoke hearts add great saltiness and texture.  So bust out a light white wine and dive into this dish of green goodness.

Green Goddess Pasta (serves 2)

  • 6 oz whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 3/4 - 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts
  • parmesan cheese
Place a large pot of salted water over high heat.  While waiting for it to boil, combine avocado, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor.  Blend until very smooth and creamy.  Then rinse and drain your artichoke hearts.  

Add your pasta to the water and cook according to directions.  

While pasta is cooking, place a skillet over medium high heat.  Spray skillet with non-stick and immediate add the artichoke hearts.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, flipping frequently, until they are nicely browned and the outer layers are slightly crispy.

Drain pasta and transfer into a large bowl.  Add the avocado sauce and gently toss until well combined.  Divide pasta between two bowls and add the artichoke hearts around the sides.  Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and enjoy.

To add protein, simply grilled chicken is great.  But personally, I love the added texture that this Easy Parmesan Baked Chicken brings to the dish.  This is one of the first recipes I ever learned, and it is still an all-time favorite.  Simple, tasty and only 4 ingredients...gotta love it.  Just start this before you begin the pasta dish above.  The timing of the two works out perfectly.

Easy Parmesan Baked Chicken (serves 2)
  • 6 chicken tenders, thawed
  • 2/3 c fat free Italian dressing (we go for the zesty!)
  • 2/3 c freshly grated parmesan
  • 2/3 c panko or other bread crumbs
Combine chicken tenders and Italian dressing in a ziplock bag and let marinate for at least 2-3 hours.  (I will combine these in the morning before I go to work and let them sit all day....it just gets better.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place a cookie cooling rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick.  

Combine panko and parmesan in a small bowl.  Remove one chicken tender and allow excess dressing to drip off.  Place in the panko mixture and flip to coat both sides.  Transfer to the prepared cookie rack.  Repeat breading process with the remaining tenders.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, then turn your broiler onto high and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Chicken will be done when it is golden on top.  You can double check by slicing into the center of one tender to double check.  

Dig in!

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