Spring Penne Pasta with Light Butter Sauce

printed from melskitchencafe.com

*Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound penne pasta

12-16 ounces fresh asparagus spears, hard ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 medium)

1 medium shallot, minced

3 large garlic cloves, finely minced (for about 1 tablespoon total)

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from about 1 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts

1 (6-ounce) can black olives, halved

Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and boil according to package directions. Add the asparagus to the pasta and boiling water for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain the penne and asparagus.

While the pasta is boiling, lightly season the chicken breasts on each side with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken (alternately you can broil in the oven or saute in a skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil) until cooked through, about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Remove the chicken to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing into strips.

In a 10 or 12-inch skillet (if you used a skillet for the chicken, wipe it out quickly and use it here), melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Saute, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until the shallot is soft. Stir in the chicken broth and simmer the mixture until it has reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, anywhere from 6-12 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining butter, a few cubes at a time, swirling the pan to melt before adding more. Stir in the lemon juice, chives and parsley. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta and asparagus to a large bowl or pot. Add the tomatoes, artichokes and olives. Pour the sauce over the top and toss to coat. Serve the pasta with slices of grilled chicken and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.