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This crazy dish is one of my ‘mad scientist’ creations that went really well.  I like to think of it as a combination of my Gulf Coast roots and my Italian American genetics.  The mix of flavors in this pasta make me remember one of the basic observations of biology and evolution, that individuals that have a mixture of different genetics can become almost more than the some of their parts and display what is called ‘hybrid vigor.’ (Therefore being more successful in producing more offspring than their competitors.)  Hybrid vigor is why pound puppies are often much healthier than their pure bred counterparts and why they’re so much cuter!

The spices in creole seasonings pair up great with the creamy nature of an alfredo sauce.  This flavor combination is a great way to use up almost any veggies you may have and any sort of cooked poultry leftovers (maybe even leftover turkey?).  If you have more people (or really hungry people!) to feed, adding a some garlic bread would make this pasta dinner go farther.

I think this dish comes together really well and displays some of that hybrid vigor; I hope you like this one as much as me and my fireman did!

Creole Chicken Alfredo Pasta

Serves 3-4 – cost approx $1.32 per serving

Ingredients

  • 1 lb linguini or spaghetti ($.89)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets – I got a great deal on some beautiful green cauliflower at the farm stand in Dixon! ($.25)
  • 2 cups, approx 12 oz, cooked chicken or turkey, cubed or shredded ($.75)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Creole seasoning – to taste
  • 3 slices bacon, 1/4 inch slice ($.25)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced ($.25)
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced ($.99)
  • 2 cups bunch beet greens, thinly sliced – any mild green like spinach or chard would be nice ($.10)
  • 2 Tbs garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk ($.26)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup finely shredded parmesan – I used a microplane, if you have pre-shredded parmesan use only 1/2 cup ($.25)
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 1 cup feta cheese, divided use ($.37)
  • 2 Tbs sliced scallions

DSCN3584Put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Toss the cauliflower and cooked chicken in the olive oil and creole seasoning and place on a sheet tray.  Put in the oven for 5-10 minutes just to start cooking the cauliflower and to get a nice brown crust on the cauliflower and chicken.  When it’s slightly browned remove from the oven and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat and render the fat.  Remove the bacon pieces and set aside.  Begin to saute the onions and bell pepper slices in the bacon fat.  When the onions and peppers begin to sweat, add in the beet greens and garlic.  (If you use beet greens your veggies and resulting sauce may become slightly pink, don’t worry, it’s just the happy beet color!)  Continue cooking the vegetables for a few minutes.

Add in the flour and stir regularly for 2-3 minutes to make a roux.  Next, add in the milk and stock and bring to a simmer, toss in the bay leaf.  (Now would be a good time to put the pasta into the already boiling and salted pot of water.)  Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes.  Add in the parmesan cheese, parsley and half of the feta, also add the cauliflower, chicken and bacon to the sauce then simmer another 5 minutes.

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After this 10 minutes has elapsed your pasta should be somewhere in the realm of cooked, depending on the type of pasta you used.  Now, scoop out a cup of pasta water just in case.  When the pasta is al dente (slightly undercooked) drain it and add it to the sauce.   Cook the pasta and sauce together for a minute, if it is too thick you can thin it out with a little of the reserved pasta water.  Serve, garnished with the scallions and reserved feta cheese!  Enjoy!

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