Lemon Dill Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese
I made this Lemon Dill Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese at the insistence of an herb.
My general meal planning tactic is to create recipes that use up whichever leftover ingredients I would be the saddest to see spoil. Was it the artisan salami I bought on impulse at the fancy super market which commanded our menu? The shallots that have been lurking in a dark corner of our pantry? The cheese I picked up at the farmers market? No—it was the bundle of fresh dill for which I paid a grand total of $.79. The idea of seeing its downy soft, fragrant leaves turn brown tore so forcefully at my heart, I based an entire pasta dish around its signature spring flavor.
When dill is dictating the menu, lemon is a necessity—the two are the dearest of flavor BFFs. Next, came the idea of pasta, since a) one can never have too many quick and healthy pasta dishes in one’s arsenal and, b) my only concrete plan at this point was an herb and some lemon juice, which is another way of saying, I didn’t have a plan at all. Pasta to the rescue! Though any shape of noodle will do (including that half-empty box I know you have sitting in your pantry right now), I opted for bowties for the simple reason that they make me happy. They’re fun, flirty, and I love the way the other ingredients nestle into their “wings.” I also used whole wheat pasta for the benefit of its fiber and protein. (Not a sponsored post, but I absolutely love DeLallo. I’ve eaten every whole wheat pasta out there, and DeLallo’s have the best texture and taste—plus they offer more shape options, including these lovely bowties.)
To make this lemon dill pasta a healthy, all-in-one meal, I mixed in a trio of spring jewels: sautéed red onions, peas, and spinach. The veggies are bright, nourishing, and require almost zero cooking. I also added simply sautéed chicken for a little extra heartiness, though the pasta will still be plenty satisfying should you prefer to omit it.
Finally, rather than fuss with a cream sauce, which feels like the exact opposite of what we should be doing on a warm spring evening, I simply crumbled goat cheese into the pan. The warmth of the pasta melts the goat cheese just enough to transform it into a creamy, luxurious “sauce” that requires no cooking at all, leaving us extra time for more important affairs (*cough* grapefruit margarita *cough*).
In the end, this Lemon Dill Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese turned out to be one of our favorite dinners that I’ve made in quite a while. It’s simple, flavorful, and filled with some of spring’s best offerings.
Maybe I should obey my herbs more often.
Lemon Dill Chicken Pasta with Goat Cheese
- 8 ounces whole wheat bowtie pasta — or pasta of your choice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil — plus 3 teaspoons, divided, plus additional for tossing pasta
- 1 large boneless skinless chicken breasts — or 2 small (about 10 ounces)
- 1/2 red onion — thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup green peas — fresh or frozen
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice — about 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups fresh chopped spinach
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain. Toss the drained pasta with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, then set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high. Once hot, add the chicken and sauté until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes (be careful as the oil may splatter). With a slotted spoon, remove to plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
- Reduce pan heat to medium. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet, the onions, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Add the peas and cook until heated through (about 1 minute for fresh or 3 minutes for frozen), then add the reserved chicken, reserved pasta, remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. If the pasta seems to dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Just before serving, stir in the spinach, dill, and goat cheese.
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