Confession: I have to physically avert my eyes every time I pass the pasta sides packets in the grocery store.
You know the ones. They come in mouthwatering flavors like Creamy Chicken (a personal favorite of mine in college,) Butter & Herb (yes & yes), and Broccoli Cheddar (everybody’s fave,) and are seriously like, $.88 a packet. You can’t beat that with a stick!
What I’d like to beat with a stick, however, is the ingredient list and nutritional information that comes along with these unfortunately delicious side dishes. A little detective work at the grocery store revealed, well there’s no easy way to put this, chicken fat, listed in one packet. Hydrolyzed soy protein, whatever that is, in more of ‘em, and preservatives in most. Not to mention the fact that one small serving provides over 1/4 of your recommended daily value of sodium.
If I wanted that much salt I’d grab a handful of delicious Lays – not a wee scoop of pasta!
Anyways, you know what they say – if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself, so ditch the packet and make your own creamy, crowd-pleasing pasta side for dinner tonight like Creamy Garlic Shells!
This side dish is the ‘iiiiish! Creamy and ultra-garlicky, it comes together in about 15 minutes (including pasta cooking time) and the best part is that you control the ingredients that go inside.
Saute fresh minced garlic in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and butter, thicken with flour, then cook with milk, chicken broth, and seasonings until thick and bubbly. Stir in some cooked pasta shells and you’ve got a winner of a garlic pasta side dish for dinner! That is to say, this is really good. : )
Start by cooking 8oz (1/2lb) small pasta shells in salted boiling water until al dente, then drain and set aside. If you don’t want to run out to the store just for shells, you can totally substitute any other small cut pasta you’ve got on hand!
Let the pasta pot cool for several minutes, then return it to the stove over medium heat and melt 1 Tablespoon butter in 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Next add 2 minced garlic cloves and cook until golden brown, about 30 seconds, then whisk in 2 Tablespoons flour and cook for another minute.
Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup each milk (I used skim) and chicken broth next, then season with salt and pepper. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir until the mixture is thick and bubbly.
Just 3-4 minutes!
Remove the pot from the heat then stir in 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoons dried parsley, and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
Add the cooked shells back in then stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt & pepper if necessary.
Scoop and serve next to a chicken breast and sauteed garlicky kale (instructions below!) for a yummy, satisfying dinner.
Creamy Garlic Shells
8oz mini shells pasta
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
salt & pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
- Cook pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain then set aside. Let pot cool off the heat for several minutes.
- Return pot to stove over medium heat then melt butter in olive oil. Add garlic then saute until golden brown, about 30 seconds, being very careful not to burn. Sprinkle in flour then whisk and cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in chicken broth and milk while whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with salt & pepper then switch to a wooden spoon and stir constantly until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 4-5 minutes.
- Take pot off the heat then stir in parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and parsley flakes until smooth then add cooked pasta and stir to combine. Taste then adjust salt & pepper if necessary
I love the combination of sauteed fresh garlic, which tastes almost roasted, and garlic powder, which gives that perfect garlic punch. This was awesome!!
On the side of my side, I served a simply seasoned then seared chicken breast, and Sauteed Garlicky Kale.
I AM OBSESSED! Favorite preparation of kale to date!
All I did was saute shallots and fresh garlic in extra virgin olive oil, then added fresh kale torn into pieces, and salt & pepper.
Next I added a big glug of chicken broth then placed a lid on top and let the kale steam for 4-5 minutes.
When the broth was nearly evaporated, I took the lid off and let it saute for about another minute before devouring. I’m telling you – I’m already craving more. Cannot wait to eat this again and again!
Peace (inside) out!