Menu Monday

It's another pasta dish, people. But, I'll tell ya, if it's a winner with my girls and with my husband, it's worth sharing with you fine folks.

Also, I've been using a new type of mulitgrain pasta that does NOT taste multigrain, so it's a win all around. The pasta is Barilla Plus. A 100g serving (about 1 cup uncooked) contains 17g of Protein, 360mg of Omega-3 and 7g of Fiber. Not too shabby.

I loved this recipe because it had TONS of fresh veggies and used lower fat cream cheese and still tasted delicious. I thought the red pepper in the dish added a lot of flavor - even though red pepper cost a fortune. My opinion - they're worth the investment in this dish.

Another tip - use your biggest skillet. This recipe makes a ton of food. It says six servings, but I think it's more like eight.

Creamy Pasta Primavera

3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
2 Tbs Light Italian dressing
1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 1/2 c cut-up fresh asparagus (1-inch length)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 c fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 oz Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and vegetables; cook 10 to 12 min. or until chicken is cooked through, stirring frequently. Add broth and Neufchatel cheese; cook 1 min. or until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add parmesan cheese; mix well.

Drain pasta; return to pot. Add chicken and vegetabe mixture; toss lightly. Cook 1 min. or until heated through. (Sauce will thicken upon standing.)

Jenni's tips: I didn't have Light Italian dressing, so I used another olive oil based dressing - I think it was Romano Basil Viniagrette. The dressing just adds a little kick to the flavor - so don't run out and buy a whole bottle of Italian, if you have some other kind of olive oil dressing in your fridge. I also used a little more thank 2 Tbsp of it. There so many veggies, it seemed like a little more would enhance their flavor.

The instructions don't say to drain the liquid before you add the chicken broth and cheese. I would recommend it. My veggie and chicken mix was really watery before adding the broth and so the sauce never got as thick as I had hoped, even after I added more Neuf. cheese than the recipe called for.

Again, use a really big skillet or pot for this one. And be prepared to eat leftovers.

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