I love a good pasta dish, but sometimes the sauce instead of elevating the dish, weighs it down and becomes too heavy for a weeknight dinner.
If you’ve ever felt that way and do not include pasta too often in your meal plan, then this recipe is for you. This pasta recipe is light and extremely easy to put together. You can use any kind of pasta, but I’ve used spaghetti because frankly, it is the most fun to eat. And so are linguine and angel hair, of course. So, just use any long pasta. Al-dente pasta is tossed in some butter and garlic and topped with red chili flakes and fresh dill (or your favorite herb). You can use olive oil, but the butter really elevates the flavor and we use just a little bit of it.
As you can see I’ve topped this light pasta with slices of juicy, oven-grilled chicken. I used chicken thighs, but you can use breast meat as well. We will infuse it with flavor by creating a signature spice rub. The main players of this spice mixture are ground cumin, dried oregano, sumac and fresh dill leaves.
Sumac (the reddish-brown powder below) is of Mediterranean origin and has a slight lemony tang, with a distinct earthy aroma. I was introduced to sumac at a Mediterranean restaurant, where it is generally served as a condiment along with naan-like flat bread. It was love at first sight or whiff, rather. You can add a pinch of sumac to anything, even salads, just to bring about an earthy freshness.
There are no real measurements involved here. I just eyeballed it, adding a pinch of this and a pinch of that, till I was satisfied with the aroma and taste. I was so happy with the results in fact, that I made an extra batch of the spice mix and use it whenever I make eggs or some sort of stir fry. Sometimes I simply open the bottle and sniff it. But that’s how I get high. I am sure you do it too with your favorite foods!
The chicken gets rubbed with this rub and is allowed to rest for a while. It can be grilled on the grill, that would be great. But for now, I simply popped it into a super hot oven. It smells absolutely amazing, bakes to a beautiful golden color and tastes out-of-this-world amazing.
When you make this recipe, it is very important that the pasta is cooked at the very last minute. Hot pasta is so much better at absorbing the flavors, you must not let it sit and toughen up.
Throw the pasta in the garlicky butter, toss well to coat and add some red chili flakes for heat. Garlic butter is such a simple trick, but makes pasta so delicious, especially if you are a garlic lover.
You can eat a bowl of this pasta just as it is, but let’s make it better by topping with some of that lovely herbed chicken. This makes such a delicious and filling meal, but I mean filling in a good way. You do not have that over-stuffed feeling because the flavors are so fresh. You can top it with shaved Parmesan cheese, but I saw no need to do so.
On to the recipe now.
GARLIC BUTTER PASTA WITH HERBED CHICKEN
You will need: (Serves 4)
For the chicken,
- Chicken thighs – 4, boneless and skinless
- Cumin powder – 2 tsp
- Dried oregano – 2 tsp
- Sumac – 1 tsp
- Cracked black pepper – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Fresh dill leaves – 1 tbsp, chopped
- Fresh cilantro leaves – 1 tbsp, chopped
- Lime – 1, juiced
For the pasta,
- Spaghetti – 1 lb (or use your favorite pasta)
- Butter – 4 tbsp
- Garlic – 5-6 cloves, chopped
- Red chili flakes – 2-3 tsp (or as needed)
- Fresh dill leaves – a few, to garnish
- Grated Parmesan cheese – to garnish (optional, I did not use any)
- Herb-rubbed grilled chicken: Wash chicken thighs and pat dry. In a small bowl, combine the cumin powder, oregano, sumac, black pepper, salt, dill and cilantro leaves. Rub this spice mixture liberally over the chicken pieces. Squeeze some lime juice over the chicken as well. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
- Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F. Place chicken on a rack over a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes or till juices run clear when poked. (Bone-in pieces may require more time.)
- Keep chicken loosely covered in foil to keep warm.
- Garlic butter pasta:In a deep skillet, melt the butter and add chopped garlic. Toss garlic around on medium heat till it is aromatic and lightly golden in color. Do not let garlic burn or it may turn bitter.
- Meanwhile cook pasta al-dente in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy cooking liquid.
- Toss pasta well in the garlic butter sauce. Sprinkle some pasta water if needed. Add red chili flakes and fresh dill leaves for garnish.
- To serve: Pile pasta on to serving dish and top with sliced chicken.
- Serve hot, with some freshly grated cheese on top, if you like.
This was an amazing impromptu recipe which we enjoyed very much, and I hope you will too.
Do you have any simple pasta recipes? Do you come up with your own spice rubs? Have you used sumac? Do share.
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
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- By Stephanie Lynn