"This was my go-to dish as a kid when we used to visit our local Italian restaurant. I couldn’t get enough of it - but then again I never really understood what I was eating. Funnily enough, this version is so convincing I felt guilty eating it the first time I made it. Minus the chives, it’s the perfect ‘white diet’ food that even young children will love."
- 300 g long pasta of your choice, such as linguine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 250 g boneless, skinless free-range chicken breast or tenderloins, cut into 1.5 cm pieces
- 500 g mushrooms, such as Swiss browns or cup mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 3 cups (750 ml) White sauce (recipe end of page)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or mixed Italian herbs
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives (optional)
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for 3 minutes, or until golden. Remove the chicken to a bowl and keep warm.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes, or until golden, tossing the pan constantly. Season with salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Once the pasta is cooked, immediately remove the pasta from the boiling water with tongs and drop it straight into the pan of mushrooms. Add the white sauce and herbs, return the chicken to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through.
- Serve sprinkled with the chives, if desired.
- For a dairy-free meal, use olive oil and omit the cheese when making the white sauce.
- For gluten free, use a gluten-free pasta.
Images and Text from Three Veg and Meat by Olivia Andrews, Photography by Phu Tang, Murdoch Books RRP ‘$39.99’
White Sauce Recipe:
White sauce, or bechamel, is up there for me, but the dishes it finds itself in are usually rich and heavy, and in most cases should only be enjoyed occasionally. This version is rich in veg - not that you can tell by its colour, which is hugely helpful if you're dealing with fussy eaters.
Makes about 5 cups (1.25 litres).
- 750g trimmed cauliflower, coarsely chopped, including the stem
- 2½ tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil (or a combination)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
- 300g silken tofu, or 2 x 400g tins cannellini beans, drained well
- ¼ teaspoon ground white or black pepper
- ½ cup (50g) finely grated parmesan, pecorino or provolone cheese (optional)
- Process the cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped. Alternatively, you can finely chop it using a sharp knife. Transfer to a saucepan with 2 cups (500ml) water, season well with sea salt, cover with a lid and place over medium heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until very tender, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for 6-8 minutes, or until golden and softened. Season with more salt, then transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor.
- Drain the cauliflower through a fine sieve set over a bowl to collect the liquid. Transfer the cauliflower and ½ cup (125ml) of the cooking liquid to the blender.
- Add the tofu, pepper and cheese, if using, and blend until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and use as recipe directs. The sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- This sauce thickens quite easily, so you may need to thin it out with milk when using it in some recipes.
- To make the sauce dairy free or vegan, use olive oil instead of butter, and omit the cheese.