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The above picture is the cavatappi I usually make.  Boring!  There’s no zip, no zazz, and certainly no zap.  Basically it is just pasta, olive oil, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes.  **Yawn**  It’s strictly side dish material.  Always a bridesmaid and never the bride.  Cavatappi can do better.  Cavatappi deserves better.  We will promote you to Main Course with marinated and grilled chicken!

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion or shallots
  • 1 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups fresh spinach (washed and trimmed)
  • handful of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese or quark
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs, for garnish
  • 1 box of cavatappi, a.k.a. cellentani or double elbows

About a half an hour before you plan to start cooking, rinse the chicken and place in a Ziploc bag with the vinaigrette.  Stick those babies in the fridge and cool your heels.  Say “cavatappi” a few times out loud.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.  Grill outside or heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.

Chop up that garlic and onion (I used shallots and some onion but you have a right to choose in this kitchen).

While the chicken cools, melt butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and sun dried tomatoes, then saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, then saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes.

Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard.

Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cavatappi and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain. Toss with sauce and add the fresh spinach leaves.

Variation: I added extra garlic to mine because I LOVE garlic.  You have options though.  Who am I to rob you of garlic? I roast more than I need for the pasta because I put roasted garlic in the herb butter that I use on the bread served with the cavatappi.  Here’s my recipe:

3 heads garlic

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice off the top each head of garlic to expose some of the cloves inside.  Place each head in some olive oil poured in a bowl and let them soak up some oil.

Place the heads on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in the foil. Roast until cloves are lightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes.

NOTE: Please forgive me for all the pictures.  I have Josh’s fancy-pants camera and I just can’t help myself.  I don’t mean to insult your integrity… I know that you know what spinach looks like.  Truce?

  • YDavis - What time is dinner? I don’t want to be late for this dinner. 🙂
    Thank you for the recipe! I love you my friend!ReplyCancel

  • gingela5 - Yummy–sounds delicious! And I like the pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Michele - You are such a lifesaver!

    This is what the boys are getting for dinner tonight. Nice thing is I can serve the chicken on the side. Then the only lonely vegetarian (me) can have the cavatappi.ReplyCancel

  • CrossView - Oh yeah! I’m so there! Save me a plate…. =DReplyCancel

  • Rosa - OMG, that dish looks incredibly good! Really flavorful and colorful! Wow!



  • Dawn - Oh, that sounds so delicious. I have yet to roast garlic. I have read the instructions a million times, and have not done it. I will have to get on that. I love garlic, and mushrooms too. Yummy.ReplyCancel

  • Leah - I need to learn to stop looking at the foody part of your blog when I’m hungry, cause you make me even more hungry. I’d happily dig in to that “boring” dish you pictured first! LOLReplyCancel

  • Barb - Incredible! Lacy, I’m always trying to think of new ways for chicken (Cowboy prefers the ol’ Fried stuff.) but I’ve run out of creativity in that department! Thank you for this! It sounds delicious even at this time of day!
    I hope you know just how much I admire, respect and love you Lacy! I’m always so elated when I see a new post from you in my ‘tracker’ thingy cuz I know my visit to you will add sunshine to my day! I can dance a little lighter in the words and pictures you present! Truly!
    ~Huge Hugs~

  • Celesta - Your pictures are gorgeous! Are you a photographer?ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Don’t you have an empty guest house? loft in the barn? Big dog house? Unused wood shed? Any of those would work…we’d be ‘neighbors’ then!
    You’re such a sweetheart!
    Momma BarbReplyCancel

  • Robin - Howdy doody Miss Lacy! 🙂 Bloglines must have some sort of issue going on, because noone has shown having a new blog entry today and now I see you have a few that I never even knew about. Phooey! Well, now I see them. You’ve been having a grand ole’ time lately! Cooking yummy things and planting and harvesting. All wonderfully autumn-y things. :mrgreen:

    Have a wonderful rest of your week!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene - Hi Lacy,
    I can see that you are part Italian, German, and the States. One day I am going to send you some books from Canada and hope you like them as well. It is soooo much fun cooking especiallly if you have someone who enjoys your cooking madly. Nothing is worse than a picky eater. Great recipes, good food!!!!! More please.

    lol Love Always

    p.s. Have a great weekened. This weekened is our Thanksgiving. We all have a lot to be thankful.ReplyCancel

  • Julie at Elisharose - That looks so good. You can never have too much garlic. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Fishing Guy - Lacy: Really neat photos with the directions. This will go quite well in your forthcoming book.

    I guess I don’t see this as a side dish. It looks absolutely wonderful as a main course. I am so hungry as I look at it. you had me at the garlic and grilled chicken.ReplyCancel

  • Tipper - O.K. Lacy-Now I’m starving!! It looks so good-and I love the pictures!ReplyCancel

  • CC - This looks divine!!!!!!! Can I come too?? But no mushrooms please.ReplyCancel

  • Michele - I actually try a lot of the recipes that I find online. I print them off then try them out. If we like them I put them in a 3-ring binder. This system works great for me. I’ll write down the changes I made to this one and pass it along to you. It really was a whole new recipe based loosely on yours. Your recipe was the inspiration. The homeboys loved it.ReplyCancel

  • Kath - I could go for some of that. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - LOVE roasted garlic! We just spread it directly on little Melba Toasts or whatever, then put Brie on top – OMG – mouthgasm.ReplyCancel

  • Lynnie - What? Did I miss this? I was just on your site and thinking of what to make for dinner later and figured I’d check out your recipe section. Yum!!!! And nice pic of the head of garlic basking in the oil!ReplyCancel

  • Applie - Well! That does look good enough to eat! 🙂ReplyCancel

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