On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta–from the Melbourne kitchen

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Hello, we’ve been in Melbourne now for almost 5 days. That means we’re more than 1/2 way through our 8 day holiday here.

We’ve loved catching up with Cate and Brett and were looking forward to having Michael and Karen come over to the apartment we’ve rented for the week, for lunch.

I found a really great sounding recipe. But I’ve looked and looked for the instructions on how to make it. I thought I must have overlooked the directions, or there was a link that I just wasn’t seeing. But I’m convinced the recipe and photo have been posted without any indication as to how you’re to make it.

All these photos are taken from my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. I didn’t bring the big camera with me.

Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta

The first thing I did when we arrived here at the apartment (we rented through AirBnB) was open all cupboards and drawers to see what we had. I’m afraid the owners (who live here part-time and their other property just outside Melbourne) aren’t cooks and bakers. And when we’re so close to Chapel Street and the plentiful restaurants of South Yarra you really don’t need to go far to find great food.

But we rented an apartment so that we didn’t have to eat out every night. We grew tired of it when travelling through Europe and the UK this time last year. Though we have gone out for dinner and really enjoyed it.

There are no measuring spoons or jugs, there’s no mixing bowls, no sifter, scales, grater or even a can opener. I was going to have to do things the old-fashioned way without the benefit of all the gadgets I’ve come to love and depend on at home.

And here are the ingredients, in 3 parts because. The area I had to work on is also pretty sparse, and my camera phone doesn’t have the same capability of the big camera.

Ingredients part 1

The chocolate was for dessert. I made the Lindt Chocolate pudding with the “new” Lindt Caramel chocolate. Whittaker’s chocolate bars here are 200gm, not 250gm as they are back home. But that was perfect, because that’s exactly how much I needed.

This was the first recipe I’ve made where I’ve used Evaporated Milk. And I liked it.

Ingredients part 2

I steamed all the veggies. While everything goes into the oven to get the “baked” bit of the recipe, I didn’t want to end up with mostly raw veggies. And since there were no instructions to the recipe I decided I could pretty much do what I wanted.

I think I used most pudding bowls in the making of this meal.

Cherry tomatos

The carrots were thinly sliced, well the recipe said Julienne but I wouldn’t say I did quite that. And the lemons were to be zested which would have been infinitely easier had there been a zester, even a grater. But alas none of those things. So I spent quite a bit of time carefully using a peeler to get just the zest and no white pith, then chopping it up finely.

When Mr Fussy saw me grab the broccoli at the supermarket it squawked. I knew he wouldn’t be eating it, but I also knew it would be really easy to pick it out, or dish it up and avoid adding any greens. He survived.

Since there was no grater we bought the cheeses already grated. They have a much larger selection of pre-grated cheese here, or at least in the Coles supermarket we bought from.

I notice though that the items in the baking section aren’t as great as back home and seem to be a bit more pricey which surprises me.  Actually we have found supermarket prices to be the same as back home. But with the exchange rate it makes them more expensive.

Ok, let’s bravely make this dish. Here’s the way I made it.

Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon butter
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    One (12-ounce) can evaporated 2% milk
    1/2 cup grated mild chedder cheese
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme)
    zest and juice of 1 lemon
    salt and pepper, to taste
  • Main
    One 500gm box Barilla Spaghetti, cooked until al dente
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    2 medium cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups fresh broccoli florets
    1 large carrot, peeled and chopped or julienned
    1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped or sliced thinly
    2 cups cooked and chopped or shredded chicken breast
    1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
    salt and pepper, to taste

Topping

  • 1/2 cup grated mild chedder cheese
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
    1/2 lemon juiced

Instructions

Sauce

Heat a pan over medium heat and add the oil and butter. Swirl the pan while the butter melts. Don’t let the butter burn.

Add the flour and stir to combine. Then let the flour cook off for a minute or two, occasionally stir to prevent the mixture browning.

Slowly begin to add the evaporated milk. The mixture will be really thick and glugy. Just keep stirring while slowly adding the evaporated milk. Stop stirring every now and then to fully stir in the liquid, as you do the mixture will smooth out and thin.

Once all the evaporated milk has been added continuously stir the mixture until it begins to bubble. Allow the sauce to bubble for a few minutes then add in the cheeses thyme, zest and juice of the lemon.

Stir, or whisk, to combine all the ingredients then add salt and pepper to taste.

Let the sauce come back to a simmer and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

Main

Cook the chicken, or use a pre-cooked chicken, then shred or cut into bite sized pieces.

Steam the broccoli and carrots.

Cook the pasta according to the directions of the packet.

While the pasta is cooking, in a fry pan over medium heat add the oil. When the oil is hot add the garlic and peppers and gently fry being careful not to burn the garlic. If you prefer you can cook the broccoli and carrots at the same time rather than steam them.

Assembly

Heat the oven to 200degrees Celsius.

Drain the cooked pasta.

Add 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of a serving dish.

Add the pasta, chicken and all the cooked vegetables and the cherry tomatos.

Pour over the remaining sauce.

Gently mix the pasta and vegetables into the sauce. Use tongs and gently pick up the pasta to mix it through the sauce.

Sprinkle over the remaining cheeses.

Juice the lemon over the dish or juice the lemon and then pour the juice over the dish.

Put the baking dish into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until all the cheeses have melted and the cherry tomatos have softened.

Lunch is served

The recipe didn’t say how many serves you’d get. I assumed the 500gm packet of spaghetti would be enough for 5 adults, using the rule that 100gm of pasta per person. But this made a lot. The dish I used (the only one here) was the roasting dish. There is so much pasta left I don’t think we’ll need to eat out for any meal over the remaining 3 days.

Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta serving

Depending on what you’re serving the pasta with, it would pay to have the plates warmed. The pasta does cool down quite quickly. While it was being served I could see all the heat/steam coming off it, but it cooled quite quickly. However a hot plate with salad wouldn’t have made for a pleasant salad experience.

I loved the lemon flavour to this recipe. I really liked the sauce too. I doubled the recipe for the sauce. I’ve made a baked pasta before and found the sauce too sparse for the amount of pasta, and when you bake the pasta, the pasta tends to absorb the sauce leaving no noticeable sauce at all.

Given there were no measuring spoons I guessed what a tablespoon of flour was and possibly had a little too much (the “tablespoon” was really HUGE, lovely spoon, I’d like to take a few home, but of course wont Winking smile), I could have thinned the sauce a little more by adding some milk, or just added a little less flour. But I’m sure if anyone else is interested in making this recipe you wont be caught short like me.

How many serves would I estimate? There were 4 adults and we’re not quite1/2 way through the dish. You’d easily feed 8 adults.

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2 thoughts on “Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta–from the Melbourne kitchen

  1. Well done creating such a yummy looking meal with so little implements! But I never doubted you couldn’t…you are amazing in the kitchen 🙂

    • In some ways the lack of bench space was worse, that and worrying Mark would cut his fingers trying to pierce the tins. He offered to go up the street to buy a can opener. It was a really tasty meal though. I will make it again when we’re home, but halve the ingredients except the sauce 🙂

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