Creamy Pasta and Broccoli

We’re never too short on recipes here at Feaston. Over the last year or so we’ve signed up for food magazines filled with delicious dinners.

Plus they usually come in seasonal form.

This one appeared in Kraft Food and Family. It’s Creamy Pasta and Broccoli. And here’s the kicker: It’s healthier than you might think.

It's cheesey and full of goodness.

It's cheesey and full of goodness.

When the magazine came about a month ago, I immediately picked this one out as something that I wanted to make. There was no question about it.

It’s got cheese, pasta, veggies, chicken and more veggies.

This recipe also gave me a chance to try cooking with cream cheese, or in this case neufchatel cheese (I didn’t know what that was either, but it is basically low-fat cream cheese).

Michelle had done this before, but I never really knew what to do with this sort of thing in a recipe. After trying it let me tell you, Neufchatel makes awesome cream sauces. If you’re not into that sort of thing, you can always try cream of mushroom soup as a replacement (which was well recieved when it was featured on this site).

As always, we made some changes to the recipe and took out some step we thought were a little unnecessary.

Here’s what you need:

  • Pasta (we used rotini)
  • Broccoli crowns
  • At least a 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
  • Chicken (The recipe calls for uncooked, we used cooked)
  • Neufchatel cheese (We used 1/3 less fat store brand)
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic (optional)

We’re going to start with a couple of things: Chicken and noodles. Get a pot of water boiling and get your chicken cooking. We used cooked, because it was what we had. So throw that in a large frying pan on low heat to thaw out.

After it thawed, I shredded it some more.

After it thawed, I shredded it some more.

We also steamed the broccoli in a separate pot. If you don’t have one or don’t want to do this, just throw the broccoli in with the pasta for the last three to five minutes. It will do just fine.

You can delay the start of this next step until you have your noodles in the water (it helps to time the meal better so it’s all hot). Now your chicken is thawed, it’s time to start on the sauce. We used about 12 oz. of pasta, which is about 3/4 of a box, and I had to double the sauce recipe, FYI.

For a single serving sauce recipe, which handles about 1.5 cups of uncooked pasta (not very much), throw in 1/2 cup of veggie or chicken broth and give it a stir. When it begins to simmer, throw in 2 oz of neufchatel cheese. The packaging should have measurements on it like butter.

You don't need to go crazy, but keep it moving in the pan.

You don't need to go crazy, but keep it moving in the pan.

The cheese will sort of melt in with the broth, creating a creamy sauce. When this is well blended, throw in a handful, about a 1/2 cup, of Mozzarella cheese and stir that in as well. If you have a garlic press, throw a clove or two in with the sauce to give it some flavor. This was the missing ingredient, we found. Really ups the flavor of the entire meal.

You will notice the sauce to really thicken up and like I said, I doubled the recipe.

Drain your pasta and broccoli. Throw that in with the sauce and stir it all around. Top it off with some black pepper, sea salt and some additional Mozzarella cheese.

We took out the step that said to bake the dish for 15 minutes at 375. Since we had the oven already preheated, we threw it in for a short time to melt the cheese on top. It’s up to you what you want.

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