It’s Saturday, and that means only one thing to me - SPORT.
Saturday has always been a sporting day in my life, whether playing football or cricket when I was younger, or watching on as a spectator now my sporting prowess involves shouting at the tv telling overpaid numpties how to do it.
So, depending on what sport is going on, there are times when I need to cook (I always need to cook) something that won’t drag me away from my tv tirade at the latest misplaced pass or sliced cover drive.
Being the weekend though, I still like to make something a bit special and for me this recipe ticks all the boxes.
It is easy to make, looks great on the plate, and would be a tremendous recipe to make if you have friends popping round unexpectedly.
Chilli Chicken Pasta uses ingredients you probably already have in your store cupboard. Pasta, tomatoes, pesto, onion, garlic and sweet chilli sauce, those you don't have are easily bought from your nearest supermarket.
It is basically sautéed chicken breast strips, mixed into a sweet chilli, red pesto and creme fraiche sauce and combined with some freshly boiled pasta. Sounds simple, and it is.
The sauce can be refined to your own taste. If you like it with a bit of chilli kick, just add a squirt of Sriracha chilli sauce. Be careful though, as some sweet chilli sauces have more of a kick than others, so taste before you decide. You can add a bit more red pesto if you like a more pronounced tomato taste. But, as always, just keep tasting to get your perfect sauce.
And the less time I spend in the Grumpy kitchen on a sporting Saturday means the more time I can spend haranguing defenceless sporting stars on the box. Marvellous.
INGREDIENTS serves 4
400 g of pasta of your choice (I used dried penne)
4 chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
1 large red onion, finely sliced
4 spring onions, finely sliced
4 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce
6 tbsp of creme fraiche (half fat is okay)
3 tbsp of sun dried tomato pesto
squirt of Sriracha chilli sauce (optional)
tsp of finely chopped garlic
100 ml approx of vegetable stock
2 large tomatoes, deseeded and the flesh diced (for garnish)
salt & black pepper
In a large frying pan, heat a couple of splashes of olive oil over a medium heat, and sauté the chicken strips for about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over, season, and add the red onion and spring onions. Cook until everything is a nice golden brown.
Add the garlic and stock and stir well to incorporate the well done bits of chicken that are on the base of the pan. Simmer and reduce slightly to a sauce consistency.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sweet chilli sauce, creme fraiche and red pesto, adding some Sriracha chilli sauce after tasting, if you think it needs a kick.
Pour this into the frying pan with the chicken and onions, and stir well to incorporate.
Boil the pasta for the designated time stated, or even a bit less, so the pasta doesn't overcook during the mixing of the sauce.
After draining the pasta (reserve a cup of the pasta water), add it to the chicken and sauce and mix well. I had to transfer it to a bigger pan at this stage.
Let everything amalgamate and simmer for a few minutes before checking for final seasoning. If it looks a bit thick, just pour in some of the saved pasta cooking water until you get the consistency you need. A little lemon juice can sharpen things up at this point, although I don't bother.
Spoon into deep plates or bowls and finish off with some diced tomato and torn basil.