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Impromptu Pasta (aka Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato with Bowties)

I’m the queen of improv. Cooking that is. I would claim comedy as well, but the Guy would probably argue with me. So back to cooking. I’m always finding a way to “make things work” when I have a recipe I want to try but don’t have quite all the ingredients on hand. Google often comes in handy for this, as I find myself sitting down and typing in “substitutes for __________.” Or, sometimes it’s not a matter of making a recipe with less than the required ingredients, but figuring out if there is some way, some how that I can make something edible for dinner out of what’s already in my pantry and fridge, without making a trip back out to the grocery store after I’m home from work and already in my “comfy clothes” (read: pajamas).

Tonight started out as an effort to do the former–make a recipe I already had in mind work. The goal was this Mini Farfalle with Roasted Peppers, Onion, Feta and Mint¬†recipe¬†(yes, that is a really long name) I found the other day when I was planning my menu for the week. Ok, ok, I realize that, since I was planning ahead for this recipe I should have had all the ingredients. And I did, except the three I was already planning to omit–pine nuts, golden raisins and mint–because they just sounded, well, odd in the recipe. Several reviewers reassured me that the odd-sounding ingredients actually worked well together, but I wasn’t quite daring enough to try them. This week anyway.

So I got home tonight and started getting out the makings of dinner, only to find that the roasted red peppers I had planned to use had gone bad. I looked at the recipe, looked at what I did have of the ingredients (plus the chicken and bacon that I had decided to add for a little protein–the Guy doesn’t do well with no meat), and then poked around the door of the refrigerator to see what I had that could bring everything together in a somewhat tasty way.

The answer came in the form of sun-dried tomatoes. Have I mentioned that I love sun-dried tomatoes? Because I absolutely do. One day, I will share my recipe for feta-stuffed chicken, which takes advantage of sun-dried tomatoes in a beautiful way. The Guy said that is one of his favorite meals that I make–maybe the favorite. Which I guess explains why he loved my “impromptu pasta” tonight so much; it’s basically just a pasta version of the stuffed chicken. And in the end, not really very close the original recipe I was aiming for–but completely delicious.

Alright, I’m done boring you with the narrative explanation. Here’s the recipe:

Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato with Bowties

12 oz. bowtie pasta (farfalle)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp. minced garlic (about two cloves if you’ve got fresh garlic–I had a jar)

1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil (about 8 oz.)

4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup cooked chicken breasts, chopped or shredded

5 oz. crumbled feta cheese (the reduced fat version tastes great, if you’d like to trim calories)

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drain oil from sun-dried tomatoes into skillet; add onions and garlic and sautee until onions are transparent. Using a food processor or Magic Bullet, pulse tomatoes until finely diced (almost a paste). Add chicken, bacon and tomatoes to skillet; stir and heat on low until warm (only a few minutes).

Sun-dried tomato & chicken pasta
The tomato-chicken mixture….yum!

Add tomato and chicken mixture to pasta and stir to mix. Stir in feta, basil and pepper, then serve.

Sun-dried tomato & chicken pasta
The final product–the Guy had to stop himself from a third helping.