The value of ditching recipes: Chicken spinach Alfredo with brown rice spaghetti

FullSizeRender (51)I’m not a huge fan of recipes, unless it comes to baking. In that case, measurements are crucial.

But when you’ve got half an hour to throw together dinner for your family, who wants to keep going back to a book or a piece of paper or their phone? 

I love spontaneity, and with food, this is no exception. I love starting out with a general concept and seeing what I have in the fridge. If I know a savory recipe needs lemon for acidity but we ran out of lemons, I won’t fret, knowing I can probably substitute some sort of mild vinegar in place.

Oh god, I’m starting to sound like a housewife.

I love throwing together marinades for meat with whatever spices and sauces we have in our kitchen, and being confident that my cooking experience/Food Network binges will lead me to have some common sense about what flavors will and will not work.

Recipes are great for beginners, but eventually you learn the skeleton of a recipe and are able to customize it to your own liking. And that’s when cooking gets fun.

Tonight, I made chicken spinach Alfredo with brown rice spaghetti.FullSizeRender (50)

I started out by heating up a huge pot of water. When it started to boil, I added in a dash of salt and olive oil. The salt helps to flavor the noodles from the inside out (as opposed to topping the dish off at the end, which leads to a flatter flavor), and the olive oil helps to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

I used brown rice spaghetti from Trader Joes (approximately 3/4 of the package) for my family of 4. I let that boil for 8 minutes (the package said 8-11 minutes) and then let it sit for another few minutes, taste-testing every minute or so until it was al dente.

I reserved a few ladlefuls of starchy pasta water in another bowl and then drained the pot of pasta into a strainer. After dumping the pasta back into the pot, I brought everything back to the stove, set it over a low heat, and added about half of a container of Alfredo sauce from Trader Joes, roughly five handfuls of fresh baby spinach, and about a cup of leftover chicken from the night before.

I quickly added the starchy water back in to prevent the bottom from burning, and then threw in one strip of rosemary leaves and one garlic clove, all finely minced. I stirred everything together well, letting the spinach wilt and the mixture to heat up. When the pasta water got absorbed, I poured about a quarter-cup of chicken broth in to keep the pasta loose.

Yum.

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3 thoughts on “The value of ditching recipes: Chicken spinach Alfredo with brown rice spaghetti

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