Friday, July 20, 2012

Chicken Pasta with Zoodles {oh, and a bonus Chicken Zoodle Soup Recipe!}

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Chicken pasta sauce with 'zoodles' (zucchini noodles)

I've had a few requests for this simple-but-delicious recipe, (mostly from my friend Sue-Ellen, who won't stop hassling me!) so here it finally is. ;-) I've been a bit absent on my blog for the last couple of weeks due to overwhelmingness of all sorts, but I'm determined to get this posted... I had thought of keeping it up my sleeve for my cookbook, but that's going awfully s-l-o-w-l-y (inducing some of the aforesaid overwhelmingness) so I thought I might as well post it.

This is one of those recipes that is great to make when you want a chicken to 'stretch' a long way. If you buy organic and/or free range chicken like I (usually) do, it's nice to have recipes that only need 300g of chicken but still feed six people. If I'm starting with a whole chicken, I cut off the thighs and brown meat from the legs and use that. I use the breasts for another recipe, and then I use the meaty carcass to make soup from.

However, this time I did things a bit differently. It all started with a crazy day and no menu plan, which I wouldn't usually recommend, but somehow it worked out...

At 5.30pm I realised everyone was going to be bugging me very soon for dinner, so I dashed out to the freezer to see what I had. I dug around and found a kilo of chicken thigh fillets, which were of course frozen into a solid block. I have no microwave (yep, I'm one of those weird people who refuse to have one), so I chucked the frozen block of chicken into my big stock pot on the stove, covered it with about 4 litres of water and turned the heat on full blast. I roughly chopped an onion, a leafy celery stalk plus some extra celery leaves, a couple of carrots, a handful of parsley and a few cloves of garlic, and chucked them all in (Jamie Oliver style - well, I like to think so anyway), splashed in a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, added a bay leaf, some Italian herbs and a couple of teaspoons of Celtic sea salt, and popped the lid on. Then I started the pasta sauce in the Thermomix for the chicken pasta. As soon as the thighs in the soup pot were cooked a bit on the outside and I could pry a few off the 'block', I added them (slightly frozen still) to the Varoma to steam above the pasta sauce. (Oh, and I turned the heat down on the stove so the chicken soup was simmering more gently, and left it for a couple of hours.)

So here's the pasta recipe - I'll get back to the chicken soup in a minute...

Chicken Pasta with Zoodles
(Serves 5-6)

1. Chop in Thermomix bowl on speed 5 for 3 seconds:
- 1 brown onion, halved
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 half a red capsicum, deseeded

2. Add oil or butter and saute for 3 minutes at 100C, reverse speed 1:
- 30g olive oil or butter

3. Add tomatoes and chop at speed 6 for 6-10 seconds, depending how chunky you like your sauce:
- 800g fresh, ripe tomatoes, halved (preferably organic vine ripened for extra flavour!)

4. Add mushrooms and chop on speed 3 for 5 seconds (or less if you like them chunkier):
- 150g mushrooms

5. Add remaining ingredients (except chicken) and cook at Varoma temperature for 30 minutes, reverse speed 1. Place Varoma tray on top, with chicken thighs (halved) inside (more if you like) to steam while the sauce cooks:
- 100g tomato paste
- 100g water
- 2 Tbspns chicken or vege stock paste
- 1 tsp Italian herbs (dried) or some fresh oregano & basil, chopped
- 1 tsp Rapadura
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 300g chicken thigh fillets

6. While the pasta sauce is cooking, make the zoodles (zucchini noodles). If you have a Benriner (pictured above) or other type of vege spiralizer, you can use that - I highly recommend them, they're awesome! You just pop the raw veges in and turn the handle, and you can use different sized blades for different types of 'noodles'. Here's Miss C making the zoodles for me...

If you don't have a Benriner, don't despair - you can just use a potato peeler to peel thin strips of zucchini for the 'pasta'. (See this recipe for 'Raw Pasta Sauce' for a picture of zucchini noodles made with a potato peeler.)

7. When the pasta sauce is finished cooking, pull chicken apart roughly with two forks and add to the sauce. Serve over the raw zoodles.

Okay, back to the soup...

After dinner was done and cleaned up, the soup had been simmering for about 2 hours, the chicken was spoon-tender, and the liquid was reduced by at least half. I turned off the heat and added a couple of handfuls of raw zoodles (which were leftover from dinner), and left it to cool. Because the liquids had reduced so much, it had become a condensed soup, which is perfect for me as I never have much room in my fridge. A condensed soup takes up less room, and you just add some water (to taste) when you are ready to heat it up again.

We ate the soup the next day for lunch, warmed gently on the stovetop with a bit more water added. (Sorry, don't remember how much, but just taste and see how strong you like it.) Let me just mention here that the Celtic sea salt makes a big difference in flavour - regular table salt just won't be the same. If you don't have Celtic sea salt (the chunky, grey, wet kind of salt that's hand harvested), you may want to add a little stock paste for more flavour.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

And I caved in and made spelt bread to go with it, which totally negated my 'grain free' idea, but anyway - this chicken soup and hot-out-of-the-oven spelt bread is the best comfort food there is, in my opinion. Even better than chocolate. And that's saying something for a chocoholic like me!!

I hope that adequately explains how to make the soup and pasta - I'll make it again soon and check if I wrote that down correctly - it was all a bit slap-dash at the time, as usual. Please tweak to taste!

Jo :-)
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