Last week, BF started complaining early about being hungry. Since moving to Manhattan, dinner in tends to be on the early side because I start cooking much earlier than before… because of my much shortened commute. So I was a bit aggravated when I knew dinner wouldn’t be ready until about 7:30 or 8, and he kept coming into the kitchen and going through my cabinets while I prepped, so finally I whipped up the easiest appetizer I could think of- fresh mozzarella, beefsteak tomatoes (albeit a really un-beefy, small tomato), and balsamic vinegar. (I originally had basil, but when I opened up the package, it’d all wilted away already… boo.) I sprinkled some parsley flakes on top for color, contrast, and in the words of Giada- because it looks like the Italian flag! BF scarfed it all down… then patiently waited for the main course.
This is an outrageously easy recipe that anyone can pull together just with whatever’s around in the pantry. I took some chicken breast and diced it, then marinated it with kosher salt and Italian seasoning for about 20 minutes. I heated a skillet with a bit of olive oil, sauteeing the chicken until it looked nicely cooked. *gasp* I then opened two cans of cream of mushroom soup – yes, the condensed kind- and plopped those in, but here is where it gets interesting.
I’ve cooked with cream of mushroom soup many times before, but no matter what, the end result tasted like cream of mushroom soup. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it has that tinny, prepared taste to it. After I added one can’s worth of whole milk, and stirred it through so that it wasn’t lumpy anymore, I grated a whole bunch of Parmagiano-Reggiano into it… which completely changed the way the “soup” tasted. I’m sure other people discovered this long ago, and I just never stumbled across it, but suddenly, with even the addition of just a little bit of cheese, it became a thick, creamy sauce with lovely mushroom bits strewn throughout. I was thrilled. I added a bunch of frozen peas, then stirred in the pound of gemelli I’d cooked to al dente while doing all of this, and a spoonful of the pasta water to help it stick.
The gemelli coated up nicely with all of the yummy sauce, and it came together as something even I was impressed with- not just for taste, but ease and well, the fact that it’d come from a can, basically. Who knew that a little cheese would change the entire dish? Not I, certainly.
BF devoured this and was happily eating on the tons of leftovers we had, which is unusual for him. I was very pleased, and this dish definitely gets added to “the book” for good. Yay!