Monday, May 25, 2009

(Fake) Saltimboca

Oops, blog burnout. Ok, really it was recipe testing burn out. I had one too many nights getting off work at 8pm, rushing home, scribbling notes as I furiously cooked dinner, and then trying to take photos (while starving) and sitting down to eat at 9:30. That's no good. The recipe didn't even work that last night two weeks ago because the above is really a recipe for a disaster dinner (and arguments about camera settings).
To get back into the swing of things I thought I'd post a super simple variation on the pasta dish I always make. This one is inspired by Saltimboca, which I love, but is too time consuming for a weeknight. It usually involves pounding chicken into thin pieces (or paillards), then attaching prosciutto and sage leaves to it before flouring and frying in a pan. Seriously, it's so good. This dinner takes my favorites flavors from Saltimboca, but with a throw-it-all-together method.

(Fake) Saltimboca
(serves about 4)
2 chicken breasts
1 small, yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 prosciutto slices, cut into thin strips
4 - 6 fresh sage leaves, minced
juice of 1 lemon
4 cups short pasta (usually penne, measured before cooking)
a generous handful of fresh spinach cut into thin strips
sprinkles of Parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper to taste, of course
  • Start the pasta water. On my stove is usually takes 30 minutes (from cold water to straining) to cook penne, so the timing is just about right.
  • Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. If you feel like taking the extra time to cut these thin it will cook faster and be a little more Saltimboca-y.
  • In a largish, high-sided frying pan, saute the onion in a bit of olive oil until it just starts to brown. Add the garlic and saute until it is just starting to brown.
  • Add the chicken pieces and prosciutto* and saute for about five minutes - they just need to get some color, they'll continue to cook through the rest of the preparation.
  • Hopefully your pasta water is ready. Throw in a generous pinch of salt and the pasta.
  • Add the spinach and lemon to the pan and stir this around as the pasta finishes cooking. It's ready when the spinach is cooked and most of the liquid is gone.
  • Toss with the pasta and sprinkle with a little parmesan. Yum!
*If you have time, the prosciutto is even better if you crisp it before starting anything else. Just saute it in the pan with a tiny bit of olive oil. When the strips are crisp (almost like bacon, which would be a fine substitution) set them aside on a plate and start at the beginning of the recipe. Add the prosciutto when you mix in the pasta.

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