This dish we made for dinner tonight, Cheesy Chicken Pasta, would be a great way to sneak in several healthy ingredients without anyone knowing how good it was for them!
To start us off, we used whole-wheat penne that is filled with protein and fiber - if you haven't tried switching over to whole-wheat yet or you've tried it in the past and didn't like it, you might look into one of those multi-grain pastas (we've tried Barilla Plus in the past and have been pleased). They tend to be lighter in color and taste pretty darn close to regular pasta. When the penne was just short of being ready, we tossed a couple cups of small cauliflower florets into the same pot to save on dishes.
While I was waiting for the pasta water to boil and for it to cook through, I also had another pot on the stove getting the creamy cheese sauce going. With a base of softened onions and a splash of white wine, the rest of the sauce is composed of milk and flour that were whisked in and allowed to thicken. You have a basic milk sauce right now, but what turns this into a cheesy coating is the addition of intensely flavored shreds of Gruyère cheese. Cooked chicken, that I first shredded, was plunked into the mix for a bit more protein, along with a dollop of Dijon for a bit of tang in the background. The sauce was then combined with the cooked pasta and crisp-tender bites of cauliflower, then topped off with a few fresh chives.
Kind of like a stove-top mac-and-cheese, I almost thought that there was going to be too much of the sauce once everything was tossed together, but it didn't take us long to realize how tasty it was - and yes, we may even have to admit we licked our plates clean! The sauce was a tad on the thin side for me, but it was quite rich and did seem to cling well to the pasta, chicken and cauliflower. The nutty Gruyère made this for us, but I don't see a problem using a milder Swiss, which might satisfy a younger audience... that and it would probably be more friendly to the wallet!
Cheesy Chicken Pasta