Texas chicken spaghetti will never appear in a heart-healthy cookbook. This spicy, cheesy dish absolutely exemplifies Southern Home cooking’s chief goal of showing love and concern. In my book, at a moment of family crisis, the girls’ Ma-maw whips up this high-salt-high-fat, comfort food. Her goal is filling tummies and consoling hearts at a difficult time.
I included this go-to recipe from my life in East Texas, circa 1978, because the spicy dish was a feature at home and at many a church pot luck or funeral. We won’t discuss what this cheesy pasta did to diner’s arteries or waistline. My sister and I each moved from Texas, and we found that we must stock up on a key ingredient, Rotel tomatoes whenever we returned for a visit. The authentic Texas Chicken Spaghetti would not be the same with it. Carol hauled her spicy tomato supply to Maryland and I transported mine to Montana. Perhaps, we broadened each state’s cuisine.
The splatters on my old recipe card in the photo above tells how popular chicken spaghetti was in our family. For old times sake, I store the card in my mother’s old metal recipe box, but on no account do I make or consume this dish.
Southwest chicken pasta and goat cheese
Today, I console myself with a tasty version more friendly to my vintage Boomer body. Here goes. Try it and see what you think.
Ingredients: One pound package of orecchiette or rotini pasta, 4 chicken thighs, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 stalk celery, 4 green onions with tops sliced thinly, 1 diced green or yellow bell pepper, 1 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes halved, 1/4 to 1 diced jalapeño, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese,
5 ounces soft goat cheese (Look for 5% or less sodium), 1/2 cup reserved pasta water.
- Cook the pasta al dente in boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup water for later use.
- Grill and shred chicken thigh meat.
- Sauté the green onion and garlic for 3 minutes.
- Next, add the other vegetables and sauté.
- Add the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup pasta water, and Parmesan.
- Finally, add goat cheese, chicken, and toss. Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan.
Serves four. Not so sure about goat cheese? I double-dog dare you to try it. You won’t be sorry. To quote a folksy Texan aphorism: So good, it makes you want to slap your grandma.
For more healthy choices, my husband’s Alma Mater, Texas A&M provides many yummy alternative recipes! Count on the Aggies to come through for us!