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Whole Wheat Rigati with a Quick Basil Walnut Mushroom sauce and Stripped Chicken

I’ve never really been a big fan of pasta, ever since I was kid actually, I wouldn’t take much pleasure in a big bowl of noodles with sauce, it just lacked a little luster or just seemed dull to me. Another reason why I never really jumped on the band wagon was because, in the Philippines, pasta is hardly ever done right; we have come to adopt the belief that the seemingly italian dish we serve in most of our local restaurants needs to be sweet and contain some kind of processed meat.

Of course, nowadays with some very decent Italian restaurants: Carusso on Nicanor Garcia Street and Va Bene at the Petron Gas station next to the Dasmarinas village entrance, are my two favourites; people are starting to understand the art of the dish.

My eyes were only opened  during my first trip to this nation of terrible drivers, overhyped male flirts, gorgeous passionate women, and well, Monica Belluci. I was back packing around Europe with my friends at the time and we spent a couple of days in Europe. One death-defying cab ride from the airport and we found ourselves in a very local hostel, dropped our bags and headed down the street to the first hole in the wall trattoria we could find – Yes, the restaurants serve specific food, if you ever find yourself in a place that seems to have the whole of Italy’s culinary heritage in one menu, run far and fast, tourist – We find ourselves in a tiny room surrounded by dinning Romans as the waiter approaches us and asks for our order. ‘Could we see the menu’ we ask, he scoffs at our ignorance and tells us he doesn’t have one, ‘well what do you have today’ we persevere, he taps his watch, ‘we will have 3 fettucine carbonaras and cokes per favore’ we retire, I see a smirk of satisfaction creeping up his lips. I hate ordering under per pressure. There we were, two French-Pinoys and one full Belgium guy, all ordering the same thing. Talk about a target.

The dishes come very quickly and I can barely see the sauce, there’s a line of extra virgin olive oil glimmering down my noodles and instead of thin bacon, I see thick cuts of smoked pork belly. I taste it. Suddenly, I get it. I was eating it wrong my whole life, pasta, is about tasting all the elements of the dish. I need to taste the fresh rolled out noodles, these are the stars of the dish, which are complimented by the earthy olive oil and subtly married to the sauce (no cream of course, just an egg yolk grazie).

This is how pasta should be treated: flavorful noodles, a balanced sauce and some good quality cheese. For those of you who still want a heavy ladle of sauce to cover everything up, let me try to convince you:

Whole Wheat Gomito with a Quick Basil walnut Mushroom sauce and Stripped Chicken

First and foremost, when cooking pasta, the water which you’re going to boil it in, needs to taste like the sea, so salt that mother water. Next add a little olive oil to help with the seperation a little (some people say it helps, others say it don’t, i don’t really care, i just add it in case it does make a difference). Third, dont drain your pasta, you want to add your pasta to your sauce with a little of that yummy well seasoned pasta water. Fourth, do not over season, your pasta should have a strong taste already, so balance out your sauce.

Simple Recipe: Cook your pasta according to packet instructions and until al dente. Season and make slices with your chicken breast, half cook on high heat (nice colour). Next chop some basil, garlic, a red onion, some walnuts as finely as possible and fry in some olive oil. Add the chicken, with a little chicken stock to bring it all together. when it’s cooked through, add your pasta and make sure the water evaporates with it. Serve immediately with some freshly grated parmesan.

A little side note for health: Pasta is a carb, so go easy on it, whole wheat pasta is better than white flour pasta, multi grain is slightly better and there are other of other variations claiming to be better, just read the label, look for the ingredients, and the nutritional values and make an informed choice. I only eat some when i know i truly deserve it and need to recover from a tough workout. But even then im conscious about the serving size. ALL pasta servings should be kept a 1/2 cup. Yup, you heard it right, 1/2 cup of pasta is just right, that still within nutritional balance, anything more will eventually get you fat (if eaten regularly).

44 COMMENTS

    1. Ci Ong April 14, 2012 at 4:09 am

      what kind of mushroom did you use? is it shitake or portabello?

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:14 am

        shitake.

      Reply
    1. Michiko April 14, 2012 at 4:40 am

      Good taste in food, and music. Kudos.

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:14 am

        thank you michiko!

      Reply
    1. Carl April 14, 2012 at 5:56 am

      I love pasta and I should try this one.

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:13 am

        that you should!

      Reply
    1. trexcy April 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

      yeah, i hate saucy pasta that stains ur shirt while digging it.
      it pisses me off, btw this dish is really simple, i’ll try this.

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:14 am

        someone has anger issues ahah! i actually dont mind a messy sauce!

      Reply
        1. trexcy April 18, 2012 at 3:24 am

          oh maybe coz of my clumsiness, i had this yesterday and i forgot to take picture to prove it :( but it leaves a smile on my face :)

        Reply
          1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:52 am

            im happy!

          Reply
    1. Cielo April 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      hi! i really want to try this :) but what kind of walnuts did you use? salted? thanks and more power :)

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:11 am

        unsalted

      Reply
        1. Cielo April 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm

          i did it for my dad’s bday lunch today and he loved it :) Dad said the walnut made the dish extra special :) thank you 100x cause of your recipe my dad decided to bring me along to his trip in japan….I’M GOING TO JAPAN!! for the first time since i was a baby :)) thanks again and more power :)

        Reply
          1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:53 am

            im glad!!! thank you so much

          Reply
    1. The Food Scout April 16, 2012 at 7:34 am

      Must try this out!

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:06 am

        that you must

      Reply
    1. ellen April 16, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Nothing beats simple dish. I’m definitely cooking this. Kudos chef!

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:06 am

        thank you, its very straight forward!

      Reply
    1. Anton April 16, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Now this is real pasta. I also like how the sauce is pretty simple so you get to appreciate the individual flavors more, definitely trying this out!

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:06 am

        thanks! send me a pic

      Reply
    1. May April 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      I love pasta and this recipe looks tasty and healthy, too bad about having too much carbs though, guess have to step up on running or retail therapy, thanks for the post :)

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:06 am

        yup just eat your carbs when you need the fuel :) retail therapy wont work haha

      Reply
    1. Gail April 17, 2012 at 1:19 am

      When I first dined in an authentic Italian restaurant here in Tokyo I initially thought I wasn’t getting my money’s worth because the pasta sauce was pale and it was indeed very basic. After digging in I was enlightened, it was the real pasta. I reckoned Anthony Bourdain describing his ideal pasta. It’s the noodles that matter most – the less stuff you put in it the better and the best sauce is fresh tomatoes or just plain olive oil. For what it’s worth, you have really inspired me to cut down on my carbs! I have been working out for 4 months and only last April 1 did I decide to cut down on carbs. I lost 4 kgs in 2 weeks! And you are right, it is really better to cook your own food. Thanks Erwan!

    Reply
      1. Erwan April 18, 2012 at 2:05 am

        Good job! keep at it, it gets easier, then a little harder, then easier again haha, thats life!

      Reply
        1. Gail April 18, 2012 at 4:10 am

          haha thought so!

        Reply
    1. Mae De Leon April 18, 2012 at 3:50 am

      Thank you for making cooking easy. I would love to try this dish sometime. T

    Reply
      1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:52 am

        please do its great

      Reply
    1. Faye Karel April 18, 2012 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been waiting for your healthy pasta recipe and finally here it is! I will definitely try this. Thanks for the healthy recipe.

    Reply
      1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:53 am

        i’ll do more :)

      Reply
    1. Caroline April 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Pretty sure I have a problem…I can’t get enough of pasta. But I completely agree with you that some places just don’t get it right. I hate pasta that’s swimming in a heavy cream sauce or marinara. I prefer something a little more gourmet like the dish you whipped up here. Loving the walnut mushroom sauce!

    Reply
      1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:53 am

        simple and delicious

      Reply
    1. imchayote April 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      time to leave McCormick for Chef Erwan’s homemade everything XD

    Reply
    1. Jennylyn April 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

      Just when I was about to cook this, as in literally bought every ingredient… I forgot the walnuts! uggghhh!!!

    Reply
      1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:53 am

        thats no problem!

      Reply
    1. ria April 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      I love your blog! Even though I don’t know how to cook, I’m wishing that I do know now. You make cooking appear easy. Thanks.

    Reply
      1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:54 am

        you wont know till you try!

      Reply
    1. Trish April 24, 2012 at 6:48 am

      Anything with basil is love! Will try your recipe this weekend! My favorite pasta is very simple, just tomato, basil, and olive oil — think Scarpetta’s spaghetti (w/o having to pay $$$).

    Reply
      1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 3:54 am

        the best!

      Reply
    1. Aira April 28, 2012 at 4:44 am

      I will definitely try this soon… i do enjoy pasta that is not drenched with sauce…simple yet yummy!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Janice Tiong May 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      what other pasta can we use? thanks

    Reply
      1. Erwan May 10, 2012 at 4:05 am

        any really!

      Reply
    1. Madeleine May 20, 2012 at 7:08 am

      Can I use cashew nuts instead of walnuts? :)

    Reply
    1. yel August 6, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Im gonna try this for dinner. Thanks erwan please share more easy pasta recipe :-)

    Reply
      1. Erwan August 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

        yay

      Reply
 

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about THE FAT KID

I gained weight because of a sedentary lifestyle and overly indulging in foods I knew were bad for me, eating out too often, taking the easy route (microwavable dishes) and not caring what went in my body, before I knew it reached 240 lbs. I lost weight through pure dedication, tireless hours of hard work and yes, food. I cooked my way to fitness, making sure to only feed myself tasty well prepared dishes with all the right stuff, the perfect fuel, taking me down to 150lbs. Of course I indulge from time to time, as the fat kid still lurks inside of me; here you will find a little bit of everything for the sole purpose of sharing my passion for food and life.

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