To give this scrumptious Italian number it’s full name….Peppered Chicken Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Wild Mushrooms & Spinach. It may very well be known by another name but I’m afraid I have no idea what it might be. The original recipe was passed to me by a talented young chef in Bendigo named Adam and so the credit, and thanks, go to him.
You will notice, perhaps with some panic, that I have omitted the proportions. The reason for this is that after making it a few times, I discarded the recipe and made it to taste. For instance, I love mushrooms but the kids balk at their texture and so the amount and the variety will vary. We all adore pesto but it can make the dish a little rich and heavy, so if you have plenty of chicken to go around, cut down on the pesto and vice versa. Experiment by adding and tasting as you go. Add more of what you like and less of what you don’t but don’t go mad otherwise it will become too salty or overly rich.
Referring back to the long-winded title, if you are partial to it, you might like to add more pepper and reduce the amount of pesto. Heck! Leave out the pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and substitute cream and you have yourself a completely different meal!
Start by cooking the pasta in well salted water. This should take between 8 and 10 minutes once the water is boiling, just long enough to let you prepare the rest of the dish.
Slice the chicken into equal pieces and marinate in olive oil and black pepper while you get on with the other stuff.
Slice the mushrooms and cook in an equal butter oil mix. Season and add a little garlic. Personally, I prefer to just heat them through so they remain quite firm but not still crunchy. You can experiment with wild mushrooms and I would suggest Crimini (Cremini, baby bellas, Italian Brown and Portabellini) for their richer, more earthy flavour or for the more adventurous (and if you can get them), Pied de Mouton or Porcini (Penny Buns) but any mushroom imparting earthy or nutty flavours such as Portabello, would be great in this dish. If you manage to get your hands on some good ‘uns, reduce the impact of the other ingredients and make it more about the mushrooms.
Fry the chicken in olive oil, add mushrooms and the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the pesto and garlic. Season to taste. Other than the pasta, the chicken is the only other ingredient you actually cook, everything else simply requires warming through!
Add more olive oil for the sauce. You may leave this step out if you’re not a fan of olive oil but you don’t want it to be too dry.
Drain and add the cooked pasta, toss and add shaved Parmesan. Potato peelers are great for shaving but a standard grater will probably have the necessary grating slot.
Add the spinach, toss and add a knob of butter. If you’re not a big fan of spinach, try it anyway because it’s the marriage of flavours that make this dish so bloody lovely. If you really must, leave out the spinach, it won’t lessen the dish noticeably. You might also like to add lightly toasted pine nuts or even almond slivers.
Serve with shaved Parmesan on top and accompany with a chilly crisp white of your choice.
Perhaps I’ll add a few black olives when I do this next and I must remember to take photos. Here’s one I borrowed but it doesn’t have sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, Parmesan or any chicken for that matter!!