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Everybody Eats: Dental issues lead to pasta recipes

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By Meredith Hines-Dochterman, For the Gazette

Dental issues have taken a bite out of menu planning.

I had a root canal last month. I think the words root canal are scarier than the actual procedure. The tooth was infected, so by the time my mouth was numb, I was practically asleep, pain-free for the first time in days. However, that side of my mouth still was tender afterwards, so soft foods only for a few days.

In my world, soft foods equals pasta — and sometimes frozen yogurt. However, mouth sensitivity forced me to choose pasta over colder options.

I have a second root canal scheduled for this week. When it rains it pours, right? Then, next month, my son is having all four of his wisdom teeth removed. He, too, will be on a diet of soft foods for about a week.

Remember, he is my picky eater. He tried octopus and escargot while he was in Europe, but that was amongst the company of other teens. I’ve never been able to make peer pressure work in my favor. I can make him pancakes and crepes, but he doesn’t like eggs. Pudding and yogurt are OK for snacks, but a teenage boy needs sustenance. At least that’s what the parenting books tell me.

So ... more pasta.

My copy of Pasta Revolution is one of my many cookbooks tagged with sticky notes on pages of recipes I want to try. There are probably 60 tags sticking out of that book, which contains 200 recipes. If my next dental checkup doesn’t go well, we might actually try all 200 of them! For now, I’m happy to say that this recipe was devoured by my family of four – though I did have to cut my chicken into tinier-than-usual bite-sized pieces.

PASTA WITH GARLICKY TUSCAN CHICKEN

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

3 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

12 garlic cloves, sliced thin

3 shallots, sliced thin

Pinch red pepper flakes

3/4 cup dry white wine

3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 pound penne (I substituted Farfalle)

5 cups baby arugula

1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 cup flour in shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Lay chicken in skillet and cook until well browned on first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken over, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, about 6 to 8 minutes longer; transfer to plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and shallots to now-empty skillet and cook over medium-low heat until softened and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in pepper flakes and remaining 1 tablespoon flour and cook for 30 seconds.

Whisk in wine, then broth, until smooth. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to simmer, and cook until sauce is slightly thickened and measures 21 /2 cups, about 15 minutes; transfer to liquid measuring cup and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Add 2 cups sauce, arugula, Parmesan and lemon juice, and toss until arugula is slightly wilted. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice chicken thinly on bias. Portion pasta into individual bowls, lay chicken over top and drizzle remaining 1/2 cup sauce over chicken. Serve with extra Parmesan.

Source: Recipe from Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen; March 1, 2012)

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