The days this summer aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves. The mornings this week have been grey, occasionally even rainy, breaking up into warm, sunny days around lunch time. The afternoons become hot and muggy and then, unexpectedly, the clouds come back around dinner time.
Suffice to say, this isn’t the clear, sun-bleached summer we were expecting after all that heat back in April and May.
At times, it’s a day for comfort food, warming and hearty. Later, hot and summery, all I can imagine eating is icy beverages and fresh veg from the garden. If I commit to one- hot dogs and beers- it will inevitably turn rainy and cold and stay that way. Likewise, a day I decide to make a delicious pot pie, the sun comes out and starts sizzling. Murphy’s Law.
At least something good came out of this curious dilemma- I found a meal that can do both.
Hearty (chicken, bacon, pasta) meets light and summery (basil, tomato, white wine). The rashers of bacon, instead of being suspended in the typical rich or creamy sauce, provide flavour but not weight- the sauce in this dish is light to non-existent, simply a light coating of white wine and residual bacon drippings. Flavour, not weight.
Big flavours, too! Punchy, summery, dance-out-in-the-sunshine flavours. Fresh garden flavours. Eating al fresco flavours.
Sweet, tart sun-dried tomatoes, which provide acidity and texture. Moist, herb infused chicken breast. A sprinkle of crisp, smoky bacon. The fresh, green flavour of garden-ready basil. Salty crystals of freshly grated parmesan. White wine- a dash for the sauce, the rest served chilled in a glass, or three.*
Buuuuut, if it starts raining, this meal can also feel like a big hug. This meal does both, and does them both well.
*(If I may suggest… a tart, fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand stands up well to this. The typical green apple and gooseberry notes will cut the fattiness of the bacon but also bring out the flavours in the basil and tomatoes)
|Chicken, Bacon & Sun-dried Tomato Pasta with White Wine & Basil|| |
- 2 chicken breasts
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 5 rashers applewood smoked bacon
- 1 lb. short pasta- penne, rigatoni, etc.
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 small bunch fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub two chicken breasts with oil, season with salt and pepper and place in an oven-save dish along with the sprig of rosemary. Cover chicken breasts with a piece of parchment paper and gently 'tuck the chicken in,' nestling the parchment paper overtop the chicken. This will keep the chicken moist as it bakes. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven, slice into pieces and set aside.
- Cook bacon in a large pan. Remove bacon and let drain on a piece of paper towel. Drain off most of the bacon fat, leaving approximately 1 tablespoon in the pan.
- Add garlic to the bacon fat and cook over medium heat until fragrant but not browned. Add white wine and cook 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat until the alcohol has largely cooked off.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and add noodles to garlic and wine pan. Add sun-dried tomatoes, sliced chicken and bacon and toss to coat. At this point, I like to add an additional grind of black pepper, but that's up to you. Add basil and parmesan and toss. Serve immediately.