Enjoy a delicious pasta dish for just $4.87 per person!
For a recent newsletter for the Renal Support Network, I was asked to create some recipes for patients on dialysis. This was my second time creating recipes for Live & Give and this time I was given a theme: pasta. So as part of my “We’re Bringing Pasta Back” article, I modified a Chicken Piccata recipe for the very complex renal diet. (I won’t go into that anymore here. Feel free to scroll to the bottom of the above link to read the article in it’s entirety.)
Well, recently I came into a…well….a….look there is no better way to say this…a crapload of lemons (from a neighbor’s tree.) I knew I had half a jar of capers in my fridge from a month ago when I was experimenting with the recipe. (Capers are basically pickled buds from the caper plant, so they have a long shelf-life in the fridge.) So, I thought it would be a good time to make the recipe again. (I added the salt back in, making this less renal friendly. The renal friendly chicken piccata can be found here. There is very little difference in recipe or flavor, however.)
This is an important budget point: use what you have left in your fridge. Don’t let capers, chicken broth, cream or whatever other ingredient you’ve bought go to waste. Make sure they do double duty in another recipe if at all possible. Capers can be used with lox, in a red sauce, or even can spice up a store bought tartare sauce. (Capers are a key ingredient in a good tartare sauce.)
So, I went to the store and grabbed some cheap chicken breasts and pasta. I also needed a vegetable. I found kale on sale.
Kale is returning to fashion these days slowly. Let me use a strange analogy for a second: gin vs. vodka. For a long time gin was the most popular ingredient in a martini. In the 90s, we rebelled from our parent’s version of this popular drink and started ordering vodka martinis (tasteless cousins to the real thing, in my very humble opinion.) Still, despite the whims of temporary fashion, gin has started to become popular once again. I believe the same is true of kale. For instance, my mother hates kale. But I am convinced it is that her parents cooked kale incorrectly. Kale was often over-cooked to a rubbery and over bitter mush of creamy disgustingness. But, honestly, Kale is delicious. It just needs a small amount of care. A lightly sautéed and just wilted kale is crisp and delicious. A perfect counterpoint to Picatta. My favorite kale is made with bacon, but as my wife, Jodie, is allergic the nitrates in most bacon, and the fact that bacon is rather unhealthy, I made a garlicky (garlic is also a lot cheaper than bacon) kale to counterpoint the salty lemon flavor of the chicken piccata.
The result was an affordable tasty traditional Italian feast.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat to a ½” thickness (this step can be skipped for ease by buying “thinly sliced” chicken breasts or chicken breast “cutlets” commonly sold in stores)
salt & pepper
flour for dredging
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
juice of ½ lemon (about ½ Tbsp)
½ lemon, sliced
1 Tablespoon capers, drained
4 oz. (about 1 cup dry) farfalle (bowtie) or other favorite pasta
- Season the pounded chicken breasts (or cutlets) with salt and pepper on both sides. Coat the breasts well with flour.
- Boil the water for the pasta and cook as directed by the package.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat until shimmering. Add the floured chicken breasts and cook, uncovered 3 to 6 minutes per side, until the breasts are golden brown. When done, remove the chicken breasts from the pan and transfer to a plate.
- Add wine to the pan and bring to a simmer. (Be careful, this may cause some minor sizzling.) Add the lemon juice and capers. Adjust the amount of lemon juice to taste. Do not overcook, as the lemon juice will become bitter if over-cooked.
- Return chicken to the pan and top with lemon slices. Cover the pan, and reheat the chicken, no longer than two minutes. Serve immediately over the pasta, passing extra pan sauce as needed.
- Thinly slice the garlic. Place the garlic in a pan with the oil and place on medium-low heat. Let the garlic poach to a light golden brown.
- Meanwhile, chop the kale into manageable two to three inch chunks.
- Once the garlic has poached to a nice golden brown, add the kale. Sautee for two minutes stirring the kale and the garlic. Add just a splash of water, cover the pan, and let the kale steam to a very mild wilt, about five minutes.
- Using tongs, serve the kale in a bowl, making sure to shake of any excess water if necessary.
Comes to $4.87 per person!
Kitchen Basics Used:
Olive Oil, salt, pepper, garlic
This is how I was able to come to this meal at under five dollars a head. You might have to do it differently. You may not have capers lying around in your fridge. No problem, many stores sell capers for just over three dollars now. Buy a bottle of Charles Shaw for two dollars (or three in some areas) to cook with and drink. Also buy farfalle (bowtie pasta) for $.99 instead of the fancier lemon garlic noodles I bought this time at Trader Joe’s. Being flexible, you can create your own five dollar feast.