Have you ever had chicken defrosting in the fridge for a day or two when you suddenly realize you are missing ingredients for the meal the chicken was intended for? That was me yesterday and I had to come up with something pretty quick.
Luckily, I was able to adjust my dinner plans. I whipped up a fantastic dinner that required a small amount of prep time and used just one pan. Less to clean? Not a lot of effort required? This is my type of regular cooking.
I do not like spending a lot of time cooking unless it’s something super special like bread or a fancy dessert. I’m often too busy during the week to spend more than 10 minutes prepping food to cook, 20 minutes at most.
What I came up with was an amazing chicken and penne with a homemade butternut squash sauce. It was really good and something that’s going on our regular monthly dinner rotation.
Butternut Squash Time Saving Tip
Butternut squash is a pain to cut. Due to years of waitressing, painting, and typing, cutting hard squashes is actually painful for me. So in order to save time and effort I pay the little bit extra to get pre cubed butternut squash from the store.
This keeps it so I don’t hurt myself or have to bother my husband just before the end of his workday to cut up a butternut squash.
I hear that you can make it easier to peel and cut if you poke holes in it and microwave for a short period of time too. I personally just buy it already cut to save a bit of time in prep work.
Do You Need A Dutch Oven?
I use a Dutch Oven for this recipe because it’s my biggest pot. You do not need to use a dutch oven, specifically, just a big pan that has a lid.
Some of the benefits of using a dutch oven is the liquid heats faster because a dutch oven is cast iron and holds heat more evenly. For this particular recipe you could easily cover the pasta in mozzarella and stick the whole dutch oven in the oven to cook too for extra cheesiness.
The dutch oven and cast iron skillets are great for minimalist kitchens because they can handle all types of cooking. They aren’t necessary, but they are absolutely useful.
My New Garlic Trick
I recently purchased a new garlic mincer that’s a little different but a lot easier to clean. However, what’s really won me over about this mincer is the garlic sleeve that comes with it.
Simply place your garlic clove in the sleeve and roll your hand over the sleeve on a countertop to remove all the skin on the clove. If you press a bit harder it will also crush your garlic clove which is exactly what you need for this recipe.
Other ways to smash or crush your garlic is using the broad side of a knife to smash it, a small pan and pressure, or you can just simply cut a slice into the center of a clove to get the job done for this recipe too.
Chicken and Penne With Butternut Squash Sauce
This recipe is pretty easy and doesn’t require a lot of special ingredients. It takes about 45 minutes to cook and feed 4 people large portions.
- 3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Box Penne
- 1 Butternut Squash Peeled and Cubed
- 1 Box Vegetable Broth
- ½ Onion Sliced
- 5 Cloves of Garlic peeled and smashed
- Olive Oil
- White Pepper
- Parmesan Cheese
- Pour oil in the bottom of a dutch oven and heat on medium high till it sizzles. Carefully place chicken thighs into dutch oven and start browning for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.
- Add onion, garlic, butternut squash and 1 box of vegetable broth to the dutch oven. Add salt, white pepper, and oregano to taste. Cover and let cook on medium heat for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid, turn heat up to high and carefully remove as much of the chicken thighs as you can see. Shred chicken while you let the liquid cook off for 15 minutes. Save ¾ cup of vegetable broth from the pot.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, carefully and using hot pads on the handles, pour off the remaining liquid keeping the broken apart butternut squash, onion, and garlic. Carefully pull out any small chunks of chicken you may have missed.
- Add strained ingredients to a high powered blender with ¾ cup of reserved liquid and blend on high. Add hot water to the dutch oven and begin heating on high heat to cook the pasta. Add plenty of salt to the water and a splash of oil. Add the pasta and cook until you reach your desired doneness.
- Drain your pasta, add a splash of oil to the bottom of the dutch oven and warm up your chicken and sauce in the pot. Add your pasta and mix well. Add a bit of parmesan cheese and parsley and serve.
If you are using a dutch oven you want to make sure that you add a bit of oil each time to empty and switch to cooking a new item. Because of the way dutch ovens hold heat, pasta will stick to the bottom of your pot if you do not use oil in the water.
The butternut squash will break down so do not use a normal colander to drain the extra liquid. You need to have a fine mesh colander or strainer.
I use the high powered Blendtec blender for all my sauces but because of the boiling you may be fine with a normal blender. If it’s too thick for your normal blender, slowly add a bit more water to your sauce until it blends smooth.
You can switch out the chicken thighs for chicken breasts but would probably only need two breasts instead of three. You can also replace your chicken with shrimp too. This would probably taste wonderfully with bits of bacon as well.
Do you have any easy ways to cube butternut squash? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite recipe boards.
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