This was the best kind of weeknight supper – it used ingredients I had on hand, it came together pretty quickly, and it was filling and comfort-food satisfying. Inspired by the ingredients in pasta carbonara and this recipe, I quickly came up with a plan using ingredients I had on hand.
After that crisped up a bit, I added garlic and onions, then sauteed them for a few minutes (note: I didn’t take the bacon out before I added the garlic and onion, but I should have so it kept its crispiness. This is reflected in the directions below).
I spooned the pasta into the pan, reserving the pasta liquid, and added some cooked chopped chicken. Then, in went three wedges of Laughing Cow cheese. I also added salt, pepper, and a bit of the pasta liquid to help everything melt together and create a creamier sauce.
I finished with a little bit more salt and pepper, and voila, a quick 30 minute meal. This made enough for two, but it’s easily adaptable for four. It would be great with asparagus and/or artichoke hearts and a good splash of white wine. If you don’t have Laughing Cow cheese, you could use a little bit of cream (I would think maybe a 1/4 cup would work – I haven’t tried it, but you could just add some until it reaches the right consistency), or another soft, melty cheese (like cream cheese, Boursin, or blue cheese), or you could leave it out altogether and just finish with a little parmesan cheese.
Creamy Pasta with Peas and Chicken
8 oz dried bowtie pasta (or other small pasta) – about half a box
3-4 strips thick cut bacon or pancetta
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup frozen or fresh peas (no need to thaw frozen peas)
1-2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
3 wedges (2.25 oz) Laughing Cow cheese (or approx. 1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream for this; or another soft, melty cheese; or leave it out altogether)
- Put pasta on to cook
- Heat large skillet over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil (the bacon will add plenty of fat, so no need to put in a ton).
- Slice bacon crosswise into small strips.
- Add to pan and stir. While the bacon is crisping up, mince the garlic and chop the onion.
- When the bacon is starting to crisp and rendering out the fat, remove from pan (you’ll add it back later, but this will keep it crisp instead of getting soggy).
- Add the onion and garlic to the pan (don’t drain the fat). Season with salt and pepper. Cook till onion is translucent.
- If you’re using wine, add at this point and cook down for a minute or two.
- Add the peas, and cook until mostly thawed.
- At this point, the pasta should be al dente. Scoop out of pot (but don’t drain the pasta water) into the skillet. Stir to mix.
- Add the chopped chicken and the cheese. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in some of the pasta liquid and stir – you want it to all loosen up and form a little bit of a sauce. Don’t worry too much about adding too much liquid – you can always cook it off, and pasta absorbs a lot of liquid.
- Cover the pan and let simmer for a few minutes so the cheese melts and incorporates and the chicken heats through.
- Stir so everything is incorporated and the pasta is coated with sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. If it’s a little thick, add some more pasta water.