An elevated and twisty pasta meal is made smokin’ hot with gouda, chicken, roasted red peppers, and kalamata olives!

Main Course / April 1, 2022

As a child, my sisters and I used to try and use a hula-hoop. Go ahead and ‘YouTube’ the term if you want a true laugh. It wasn’t an easy thing to master but we had no smartphones or streaming entertainment to keep us inside, so a toy that required a couple of days to master was a welcome event.

After using it, I think one’s physiology required a special genetic hip joint to execute this properly. (Ow.)

A little before my era, teenagers were gyrating to the Chubby Checker song, “The Twist.” It’s like we were obsessed with spiralizing. But when your cartilage is soft, anything moves with ease. It was decades after that I remember thinking that the twirly metal protrusion from a corkscrew looked a lot like our hips and shoulders as we tried our best to twist and twist and twist! And since all of this is the prelude to my subject matter of a recipe, I should have known than the Italians did better than all of us when expressing twisting: They did it through food.

The word Cavatappi — the pasta featured in this dish — literally means corkscrew. It really does look like one as well. It is a pasta made without egg and is tubular; a sort of double-helix macaroni noodle, perfect for catching all that cheesy sauce goodness and highlighting the Olive This! Smoked Olive Wood Olive Oil.

So how is it I made the jump from wood smoke to creamy pasta? By first roasting the red pepper in Olive This! Olive Wood Smoked Olive Oil until charred, we intensified all the flavors. Also, by sprinkling a bit in the pasta water, using it to sauté the garlic, and then adding a drizzle of it atop the final dish, this ingredient is about as center stage as you can get. And let’s give a hand to the smoked Gouda, taking a bow for being the absolute best, creamy, gooey, pasta-partner ever.

Before ending this blog, I’ll tell you I took a bit of a shortcut and used rotisserie chicken, cooked, skinned, and then pulled from the bones to bypass the extra step of roasting your own chicken. Although I will tell you, your own roasted chicken often yields three times the meat a pre-cooked, store-bought bird will. And it’s less money per bite. But in the interest of time, I curled, bent, and twisted my way to deliciousness once again!

Roasted Red Pepper & Chicken Cavatappi In a Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce with Kalamata Olives & Scallions

Layering all the smoky elements makes for an intense depth of flavor that is sweet and rich. Then, prepping all ingredients in advance and utilizing just a couple of pans on the stove is all it takes to make this beautiful meal. Always use heavy cream or half ‘n half to make the cheese sauce. Milk is really no substitute for the richness this deserves!


INGREDIENTS:

½ C Olive This! Olive Wood Smoked Olive Oil, divided

3 C shredded roast chicken, white and dark meat OR use a rotisseries chicken

1 large red pepper cut into strips

3 medium garlic cloves finely chopped

¾ C pitted Kalamata olives, halved

¾ C chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

¼ C scallions sliced thin, including white and green parts

8-ounce round of good qualify smoked Gouda cheese, grated

3 C of uncooked cavatappi pasta

2 ¼ C heavy cream or half ‘n half

4 T all-purpose flour

4 T unsalted butter

1 to 2 t kosher salt + ½ t black pepper, and season to taste at the end if it needs more.


METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 425° F and line a small glass baking dish with parchment paper. Place the strips of red pepper in the dish and drizzle with about 3 T of the olive wood smoked olive oil. Roast for about 25 minutes or until they’re soft and charred on the edges. Remove and cut into smaller pieces. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil with about 2 t of kosher salt. When you’re about 15 minutes from service, add the pasta and let it boil while you are cooking the other ingredients as described in the next paragraph*, timing it so that the pasta is al dente. This takes about 12-15 minutes. Check your pasta at 10 minutes. It should be a bit beyond al dente which means it still has a little body, but no hardness when you chew it. Keep cooking until it is perfect. Drain and add to the skillet with your chicken mixture.
  • Measure out the shredded chicken, the halved Kalamata olives, the chopped parsley, and the chopped garlic. Have it ready along with the grated Gouda cheese, and the pre-measured cream. Add about 2 T smoked oil to a high sided and large saucepan and heat to high. When hot add the roasted red pepper and the garlic. Stir for just a couple of minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the kalamata olives, and the chicken. Heat through until hot, about a minute or so. Remove and put in a glass bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and add the butter and flour. Melt and whisk together cooking for about 2 minutes or so to create a roux. Then pull off the burner and add about ½ C of the cream and whisk in immediately until it is smooth and pasty. Now add another ½ C of the cream and whisk again until smooth. Then add the rest of the cream, about 1 t kosher salt and ¼ t black pepper. Mix well. Keep heat on medium and whisk until smooth and a loose creamy consistency. The entire cheese sauce part takes about 4 minutes. Remember, you don’t want your cheese sauce PASTY. If it gets too thick just patiently whisk in a little more cream.
  • Then add the drained pasta, the chicken, kalamata, and red pepper mixture, the parsley, and stir on medium low until hot through. Serve with a sprig of parsley! Take a taste and if more salt is needed don’t be afraid to add.

*Make sure you don’t overcook the pasta or let sit in the water when it is done. It should finish just as you’re finishing the cheese sauce, so everything comes together in a nice creamy way and not pasty.



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