About five years ago when Derek decided to go on an elimination diet after seeing a naturopath, he was a bit worried. He came home, showed me the slip of paper with the allowed foods and frowned. I looked at the paper, smiled and said, “Pffft. This is NO problem! This is easy!”
I lied. It looked pretty hard to me, damn near impossible actually. I love cooking and I tend to like elaborate dinners with multiple steps and ingredients. Not all the time, mind you, but in general I tend to go a bit overboard when I cook. So when I realized the only seasoning I could use was salt, I was concerned. But I didn’t let on, I just took the list, went to the grocery store and began the elimination diet cooking odyssey. I learned to roast whole chickens, something I had never done. I made chicken broth from said chickens, and got 1st degree burns when I spilled the hot broth on my hands. I cooked swiss chard, spinach, quinoa, millet, brown rice in bulk, steak, lamb and something called moshi. And you know what? It worked. Derek felt great, better than he had in years and I learned to cook simply.
This past week we’ve returned to simple cooking and it’s been great. I think I was getting a little bored with cooking to be honest, and somehow returning to the basics has inspired me. Here’s what we made tonight. (I’m not really skilled at writing recipes, especially ones that involve me ‘winging it’, so if you’ve got questions, ask away.)
Chicken with Pasta and Vegetables
- A couple tablespoons olive oil? I never measure this. Sorry.
- 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 pound penne pasta
- 2 smallish zucchinis cut into quarter moons
- whole heap of baby spinach
- 2 bell peppers, roasted, skins and seeds removed and coarsely chopped (We had to do this because Derek is going in for a procedure on Monday that requires him to not have seeds or skins. You could just chop them up and throw them in the pan with the zucchini.)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon concentrated chicken stock
- fresh basil
- more olive oil
- lemon juice
- coarse sea salt to taste
Boil pasta until al dente, in salted water. Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water. Make pesto: This is non-traditional pesto, in fact it can barely be called pesto. It’s pretty much pureed basil. I put a bunch of leaves, a pinch of salt, and a few gurgles of olive oil in our Magic Bullet and blend until a paste forms. I also ended up adding some pasta water to make it more like a sauce. Plus a squeeze of lemon juice. Set this aside. Cook chicken in large wide pan/skillet with a little bit of olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt. When the chicken is no longer pink remove from pan and set aside. Now add the zucchini to the pan and sauté until a little browned and tender. Next add the baby spinach and cover pan to steam the spinach a bit. Maybe 3 to 5 minutes? When the spinach is wilted add the butter, cooked pasta, roasted peppers, cooked chicken and accumulated juices. Stir that up a bit. Add the 1/2 teaspoon concentrated stock to the pasta water and stir it up to mix. Pour that into the pan. Finally, add in the pseudo-pesto sauce and stir to combine.
You could easily make this vegetarian plus add in some mushrooms! Derek does not prefer mushrooms so they were left out. If I were making this for myself it would definitely involve mushrooms and I would probably add some crushed red pepper. Bon Appétit!