Kneads and Cravings: Dodging the dinner debate

You know what’s exhausting? Dinner. Well, not eating it, but deciding what to have. In my household we can take hours tossing the question back and forth, “What do you want?” only to have the other one say “I don’t know. What do you want?” And then polite society crumbles as the hungry inhabitants repeat this every 10 minutes until one of us gives up and searches out the cereal bowl or the take-out menu.

The dinner debate doesn’t sound too bad, but when you factor in that we’re all cranky from our lengthy commutes and the long work week — it’s akin to poking a bear with a stick.

In an effort to skirt the dinner debate you could try this savory and gloriously cheesy recipe for Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Chicken Florentine Pasta. It includes chicken, pasta and veggies and the holy grail that is cheese. (Have I mentioned my love of cheese yet? No. OK, I love cheese the way picky toddlers without food allergies love peanut butter.) So it should work with even the fussiest eaters at your table. If you’re trying to feed people who don’t like cheese … well you might want to look at one of our non-cheese recipes online.

Did I mention that this sounds fancy? This recipe can trick people into thinking you know how to cook — and it takes less than half an hour to make.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Chicken Florentine Pasta

Serves 4

8 oz. ziti

1 lb. chicken (sliced into bite-size pieces)

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon all purpose seasoning for chicken

¼ teaspoon cayenne

7 oz. sun-dried tomatoes

3 cloves garlic/ tablespoons diced garlic

½ cup half-and-half

1 ½ cup milk

½ cup chicken broth

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3 cups spinach

Boil a pot of water for the pasta. While waiting for the water, add the butter to a skillet on a medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet with the seasoning and cayenne until the chicken is sauteéd (I used herbes de Provence but any basic seasoning works). While the chicken is cooking in the skillet, drain and rinse the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Cut them into smaller pieces if desired. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet and sauté for four minutes. Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir until al dente. Add the milk, half-and-half, chicken broth and cheese to the skillet and stir until the cheese melts into the sauce and it’s smooth. Once the pasta is done, drain the water and stir the pasta and spinach into the skillet. The spinach shrinks up to nothing, so if you’re preparing the dish for people who enjoy spinach or Popeye the Sailor, feel free to add a few more cups. Once all the ingredients are stirred together it is ready to serve.