I’m a little obsessed with Giada De Laurentiis’s cookbooks. She’s one of those TV cooking show hosts that for years I tried to resist until I realized that I actually adore her. I admit that I also have some Rachel Ray cookbooks, but the thing with those is that I always end up tweaking the recipes like crazy until I find a version I like. The Rachel Ray books were things I relied on a few years ago when I was first really learning how to cook, but I quickly outgrew them when my tastes evolved and I wanted more challenges. Giada is a relatively new cookbook discovery for me, and I cannot resist her or her shows anymore! Her recipes are just delicious and easy to follow. It’s like finding out the untouchable head cheerleader/valedictorian is also really nice and likes Nina Simone as much as you do.

Anyway, I stocked up on a couple more of her books recently, including Everyday Pasta. Tonight I tried it out for the first time with her Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne. It was a hit, Adam told me to put it in the regular recipe rotation. I have my own made-up recipe for Spaghetti with Lemon and Chicken, and this is a more elaborate and created-by-an-actual-professional version. It was really creamy and subtle, the kind of meal that’s hearty but perfect in hot weather.


UPDATE 6/8/08: Here is the actual recipe:

1 pound penne pasta
3 tbs olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp herbes de Provence
Pinch of salt, plus 1/2 tsp
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the cubed chicken with herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Pour off excess oil from pan. Add the chicken broth the pan and cook over medium-high heat, scraping up any bits with a wooden spoon. Add the cream, lemon zest, and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta, chicken, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve.