Fettucini in Parmesan-Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce with Chicken, Mushrooms, Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Thyme

(Serves about 4)

Ingredients:

• Parmesan-Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce (recipe below)
8 ounces (½ pound) fettucini noodles, uncooked
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus a pinch
• Olive oil
10 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (*see note)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup shaved Parmesan, for garnish

(I toasted the walnuts in a large, dry, non-stick pan for a couple of minutes, tossing them occasionally as to not burn them, and then chopped them once they cooled off slightly.)

Preparation:

-Prepare the Parmesan-Roasted Garlic Cream sauce, and keep warm.

-Prepare the fettucini noodles according to package instructions; drain and lightly rinse, then toss with a touch of olive oil; keep warm under a kitchen towel.

-Prepare the chicken by slicing each breast in half lengthwise (like butterflying) to create 4 thinner cutlets; place the cutlets into a bowl and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and toss to coat; place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil; once hot, add in the chicken cutlets and allow them to sear for roughly 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and golden; remove from pan and place onto plate to hold, keeping warm; next, add the sliced mushrooms into the same pan, still on medium-high heat, and saute them with a pinch of salt and pepper, until golden; remove them from pan and set aside, keeping them warm; next, slice the seared chicken breasts into strips, as set aside, keeping them warm.

-Add the cooked fettucini noodles into the warm Parmesan-Roasted Garlic Cream sauce, along with the sliced chicken and sauteed mushrooms, and with tongs, toss together to coat in the warm sauce; to serve, add equal portions of the saucy fettucini to bowls, top with about 1-2 tablespoons of the toasted and chopped walnuts, plus a sprinkle of the fresh thyme leaves; garnish with some shaved Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Parmesan-Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce ingredients:

3 small heads garlic
• Olive oil
• Salt
• Pepper
3 cups low-fat milk
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon chicken base (I use “Better Than Bouillon” reduced sodium)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon dry thyme
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 tablespoons flour
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Parmesan-Romano blend)
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation:

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

-Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic to expose the cloves, drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, then wrap each head tightly in a small piece of foil and roast for 40 minutes.

-While garlic roasts, add the milk, half and half, chicken base, salt, thyme, Italian seasoning and black pepper to a medium-large pot, and whisk to blend; place the pot over medium-high heat, and bring to the simmer; once it simmers for a moment or two, turn the heat off; place another medium-large pot over medium-low heat, and add in the butter; once the butter is melted, add in the flour and stir to completely combine, to create your “roux” or thickener; cook this roux for about 1 minute, just to cook out the “raw” flour flavor; next, slowly pour the milk/half and half mixture into the roux, whisking the whole time to avoid any lumps from forming, until all of it is added; allow this cream sauce to very gently simmer for about 2 minutes, just to slightly thicken it, and then turn the heat off; add in the grated Parmesan cheese and whisk well to completely melt the cheese in and distribute it, then add in the lemon juice and stir; check the seasoning to see if you need any additional salt; keep the sauce warm until the garlic is through roasting. (If the sauce seems a bit thick, you can thin it out by whisking in a little additional milk.)

-Once the garlic heads have roasted, allow them to cool just enough to handle them; squeeze all of the soft garlic from the cloves and chop, or use a fork, to make it into a paste, and then add this garlic “paste” into the cream sauce and whisk well to incorporate it into the cream sauce (if you want to make this ahead, you can allow this finished sauce to cool, then put it into the fridge and store until ready to make the meal); set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.