There has been some fear expressed that now that I’ve mentioned weight loss on here this is going to become a “diet food” blog. I follow several blogs that offer “diet-friendly” recipes for various diets, and they have fantastic offerings, but that’s not my goal here. The food you see here is the food we eat. I don’t make a pie for Lane and the kids and sit by munching on celery while they indulge. Nothing against celery, but dessert it is not. Anything you see here, I’ve eaten on one day or another as part of an overall balanced diet. If I have a slice of pie for dessert, maybe that’s not the day I have a big pasta dinner. Maybe it is, it all depends on the total day’s menu. As I’ve said before, I enjoy butter and cream and cheese, and sugar. I just enjoy them in moderation over the course of a day. So no, this isn’t a “diet food” blog in the traditional sense, but this is the food I eat as part of my everyday diet and I have lost weight at a healthy and consistent rate eating all of the things you see here. I will admit that ditching many store-bought items gave my weight loss an early boost, but no matter how I slice it, it is never going to be healthy to eat an entire loaf of bread by myself.
As an offering of good faith, this is a creamy pasta dish that most people would never think of labeling as diet food. Chicken riggies is a dish that hails from the Utica-Rome section of New York, which I have never visited. It’s probably better that I don’t because if this is on the menu everywhere there, my weight loss progress might be done for. Moderation is my friend, but this stuff is that good. Chicken and rigatoni tossed in a tomato cream sauce with cherry peppers is hard to turn down. Cover it in some Parmesan cheese, and it’s perfection. This is on the menu at a local restaurant, with the caption “From Utica, with Love.” I had never heard of it before, but after seeing the description I had to have it. Being able to make it at home anytime I want without having to visit this restaurant or head up to Utica is both a blessing and a curse.
- 1 lb. rigatoni
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large roasted red pepper (jarred or roast your own)
- 2-4 hot cherry peppers, chopped
- 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 C. grated Pecorino-Romano cheese plus more for topping
- 1/2 C. of cooking Sherry
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 C. heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil and 2 of the minced garlic cloves over low heat, stirring for 2-3 minutes being careful not to brown the garlic.
Add the whole tomatoes and sherry to the pot and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Add the butter, dried basil, and salt to the pot and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat and add the chicken.
Cook the chicken, stirring, over medium heat until almost browned and cooked through, then add the roasted peppers, hot cherry peppers and remaining minced garlic.
Saute for 5-7 minutes to combine the flavors.
Mash the whole tomatoes using a wooden spoon or tomato masher (mash them as smooth as you like, I like mine to still be pretty chunky).
Stir the cheese into the tomato mixture.
Stir the heavy cream into the tomato mixture.
Add the chicken mixture to the tomato mixture, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Cook the rigatoni in boiling water until al dente and drain.
Toss the cooked pasta with the chicken and tomato mixture.
Top with additional grated cheese if desired.
Source: adapted from The Brooklyn Ragazza