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Food & Entertaining

Spring Greens

Author: Sydney Dye
Issue: March, 2013, Page 62

Capture the quintessential fresh flavors of spring with crisp, bright-green asparagus, peppery arugula and fresh mint. Combine these with local creamy goat cheese and roasted-to-perfection chicken breasts, and you have the ideal spring dinner.

When shopping, seek out one of the fine local producers of fresh goat cheese, such as Black Mesa Ranch in Snowflake, Ariz., who has been making goat cheese for 10 years. Their cheese is made twice daily. Black Mesa Ranch has a website and offers award-winning goat cheese made from 100-percent free-range Nubian goats’ milk. Their artisan goat cheese, which comes in a variety of flavors, also can be found at Whole Foods stores. This sweet, creamy, fresh-tasting cheese is perfect when paired with this spring asparagus and pasta dish.

Fusilli with Chicken, Asparagus and local Goat Cheese

2 large chicken breasts, with bone in, skin on
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fusilli pasta plus 1/2 cup reserved
pasta water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, cut into small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, on the diagonal
2 tablespoons white wine
2 ounces local goat cheese, cut into small pieces
1 cup fresh arugula
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Photo by Garrett Cook
PREHEAT oven to 375º.
PLACE chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet tray lined with a silicone mat or foil.
DRIZZLE chicken breasts with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
ROAST chicken breasts until just cooked through (internal temperature should read 140º), approximately 35-40 minutes.
REMOVE chicken from oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Gently remove breast from bone, and cut on diagonal in 1/2-inch slices. Cover and set aside.
BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil while the chicken is roasting, and cook pasta until tender but firm (about 10-12 minutes), stirring occasionally.
DRAIN pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid; set aside.
PLACE pasta in a bowl, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
HEAT 3 tablespoons of olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet.
ADD shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 3-4 minutes (do not allow garlic to brown).
ADD asparagus and cook 5-6 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked through and tender.
SEASON with salt and pepper.
ADD white wine to deglaze the pan and cook 3 minutes.
ADD goat cheese and half of the reserved pasta liquid and continue to cook until the goat cheese melts and forms a sauce. Add more pasta liquid, as needed.  
ADD drained pasta, cooked chicken slices, arugula and mint; stir to combine and cook until just heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste.
TRANSFER pasta and asparagus to a platter.
GARNISH with chopped parsley and mint.

For the most flavorful, tender and juicy roasted chicken, purchase chicken breasts with the bone in and skin on. After roasting, remove the skin; one simple cut separates the breast from the bone. Avoid purchasing boneless, skinless breasts, as they tend to be dry and tasteless after roasting. Also, if time is tight, a store-roasted chicken is a great alternative to roasting your own.

Sydney Dye is a home gardener, chef and owner of First Fig Culinary Adventures in Scottsdale.
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