I’ve become an avid fan of zucchini. It’s abundant here and there are so many ways to prepare it! Most of the zucchini I get here from my vegetable guy are much smaller than the ones I bought in the US. The skin on the small summer squash is very thin and they bruise easily, but I love the versatility of these little green wonders. Recently, I’ve added them to a frittata, soup, lentils, and roasted them.
A couple of weekends ago, all we had left for veggies were some green beans and zucchinis and I put together this healthier version of chicken alfredo. I tried to keep it closer to the healthy column by using non-fat milk and I added all of the zucchini and green beans in our fridge. It was really veggies heavy, and Omar fell head over heals for this recipe. He raved about it the first night, and again the second night when we had it as leftovers. He even told me it was dinner party worthy! I want to believe it was because this is such a stellar recipe, but I do think the quality of our chicken also contributed to my success with this one. I bought the chicken breasts earlier that day, and they were very fresh. One of the perks of living in Rabat is that a lot of the foods come from local farmers and the meats aren’t pumped full of corporate hormones. This dish feels very rich, but it is pretty healthy and I was able to put it on the table from start to finish in about 50 minutes. If you have veggie haters in your family, this might be a good way to get them to eat some of those veggies because the sauce and the pasta are mixed in with the green beans and zucchini. This recipe is definitely a keeper that I’ll be making again—maybe even for my next dinner party.
CHICKEN, ZUCCHINI, AND GREEN BEAN ALFREDO (an almost 1 pot meal!)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, sliced (optional)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 large zucchini or 6-7 baby zucchini, cut into half-moons
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound (1/2 kilo) fresh green beans, trimmed and cut
2, boneless chicken breasts, each sliced cross-wise to create 4 thin pieces of chicken
12 oz. fettuccine (preferably whole wheat)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1-1 ½ cups cold nonfat milk
3/4 cup freshly grated cheese – I used an herbed Gouda, and it worked well. I think many cheeses could work here, hard cheeses like Parmesan or Asiago, or a medium cheese like a basic Cheddar. I would just avoid the soft creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert.
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper the chicken on all sides and set aside.
In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions if using, and cook for 3 minutes. (If you aren’t using the onion, then start by adding all but 1 clove of the garlic right into the oil, cooking for 30 seconds, then adding the red pepper flakes and zucchini.) Add all but 1 clove of garlic and the red pepper flakes (if using) to the onions, cook for a minute, then add the zucchini. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to coat the zucchini and cook covered for about 3 minutes.
After three minutes, make a space at the bottom of the pan and add the tomato paste. Toast the tomato paste for 30 seconds, then add the green beans, stir again to combine and cover. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. The zucchini should be tender, but not mushy and the green beans should be bright green. Transfer all the veggies to a large bowl.
In a large pot, bring the water for the fettuccine to a boil.
In the same skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, cooking 3-4 minutes per side. As always, resist the temptation for flip! You should put the chicken down, and LEAVE THEM ALONE so you can get some nice browning on the chicken. The goal here is to just flip each piece of chicken once.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the directions on the box.
When the chicken is cooked through, remove from skillet and set aside. In a cup, whisk together the milk and flour, then add to the skillet over medium heat, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, for 30 seconds. Add the remaining garlic clove and bring the milk to a boil, while stirring. Cook the milk for 2 minutes, then stir in the cheese. As soon as the cheese is melted, add the chicken and the veggies to the sauce. Stir to coat, then turn off the heat.
We plated the pasta, then added the chicken, sauce and veggies on top. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy eating in!