I’m having a bit of a love affair…with food! How have I never before used tarragon in any of my cooking?!
In case you are wondering, it’s delicious. The aroma is heavenly and the flavor is amazing. I want to add it to everything, from soups to vegetables to meat to pasta.
Pasta! I also love pasta. But really, who doesn’t? Seriously, do you know anyone who does not at least like pasta? I didn’t think so.
Okay, there are not just two players in this little love affair with food, tarragon and pasta, but indeed there is a third. Two timing was never really my style. I’m more of a fan of love triangles…keeping your options open. Okay, not really. I couldn’t have been more of a prude when it came to dating even if I tried. Whose father actually begs them to go out on dates and encourages them to kiss a handful of guys? Um, mine does. Ben was only the second guy I ever seriously dated or even kissed! Can you believe that?! Say no, it will boost my self esteem.
So back to my third infatuation…butternut squash. There is something about vegetables that are inherently sweet (acorn squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes) that I absolutely love. And as far as I’m concerned, butternut squash tops my list of favorite vegetables.
Tarragon, pasta and butternut squash. I’ll tell you one thing for certain, these three make a wonderful combo. No need to break any hearts in this relationship because they are as happy as can be. And I’m happy eating it. Win win.
This Tarragon Chicken and Butternut Squash Pasta has just the right amount of creaminess from the evaporated milk or half and half (whatever you have on hand) and still manages to be light with the added veggies and chicken breast. The tarragon gives such earthiness to this dish, and the splash of white wine at the end lends some tang hand in hand with the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. This pasta was so good that I didn’t even mind eating the leftovers for a week. Yes, an entire week!
So if you don’t mind, I’ll be leaving you to the recipe as I brainstorm another meal I can eat for days.
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
- 2 cups diced chicken breast, raw
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 cups (1 lb.) butternut squash, cubed into bite size pieces*
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped tarragon (slightly less than ¾ teaspoon dried)
- ½ cup white cooking wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)
- ¼ cup pasta water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ⅔ cup evaporated milk or half and half
- 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ounce cream cheese (optional)
- 12 ounces of gluten free penne pasta (I prefer Barilla brand)
- Prepare all ingredients by cubing chicken breasts, dicing onion, cutting squash (I recommend using the prepackaged cubes from the grocery store), mincing garlic, and chopping tarragon.
- Place squash in a microwave safe bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2½-3 minutes or until squash is firm tender. Drain and set aside.*
- Heat 2 quarts of water to boiling and add pasta. Cook according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil on medium high heat in large saucepan. Once heated, add onion and chicken cubes. Cook until inside of chicken is no longer pink, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, tarragon and butternut squash. Sauté for additional minute. Reduce heat to medium.
- Add cooking wine and cook until reduced, stirring occasionally. While reducing, whisk cornstarch into evaporated milk or half and half and set aside.
- Remove saucepan from heat until pasta is done. Once pasta is done, before draining, add ½ cup of the pasta water to saucepan. Return saucepan to heat and increase to medium high heat. Drain pasta and set aside.
- Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, sugar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and cornstarch mixture to saucepan. Stir to combine.
- Pour pasta into saucepan and stir to coat all pasta in sauce. Add 1 ounce of cream cheese to saucepan and stir until melted into sauce. Continue to heat until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.
- Serve warm with additional tarragon and lemon wedges for garnish.