Recently, I acquired some spinach pasta from Let Them Eat Local, a new home delivery food service in Denton, Texas that features, among other tasty things, freshly-made pastas from Lucido’s World Famous Pasta. Going to Lucido’s website, I discovered this family business was linked to my 20-year career in horticulture which I am now retired from. This was one of those “small world” moments for me. Founder and father of the clan, was none other than my old pal John Lucido, who I had not seen in many years. For several years, I worked for a landscape company in Dallas. This company was based at the famous Dallas Farmers Market, and had a large retail store selling trees, shrubs and flowers to the general public. The store had a huge greenhouse stuffed with house plants, hanging baskets, lush pots of blooming plants and herb plants.
The fresh herb phase of home cooking and home gardening had finally taken off in America, and Dallas couldn’t get enough fresh basil and other fresh herbs for their kitchens. We were selling lots of herb plants at that time. I did a lot of the buying for the greenhouse and John was one of my vendors. Carrying a truckload of fragrant herbs in the back of a little old pickup, he would make the rounds down at the market, opening the back of the truck to showcase his inventory of various herb plants to buyers. I was always glad to see that little truck creak into the yard. It was a pleasure doing business with John. If time allowed, we visited for a few moments. John always had a favorite way of using his herbs at home and was ready to swap recipes.
What I remember most about John was his pleasant personality and selfless way of helping beyond our business together. Having retired from his automotive business, his help came in handy a couple of times when my car was suffering from a mysterious illness.
I was sad to read about his passing in 2012. We all hope people remember us fondly as I do John. So, this recipe is dedicated to John Lucido, who sits in Heaven at a gracious table with good food before him.
Creamy Lucido’s Spinach Pasta and Chicken
For the chicken:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon MASHED POTATO SEASONING
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Juice from half a lemon
Season chicken with MASHED POTATO SEASONING while heating skillet over medium heat.
Pour in oil; allow to heat for 30 seconds, then place seasoned chicken in pan. Cook, uncovered, for about 7 minutes; turn and brown the other side for another 5 minutes before covering pan and cooking another 7-10 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Remove to a warm serving platter and sprinkle with the lemon juice.
*Some nice boneless pork chops, instead of chicken, will work nicely with this recipe.
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon MASHED POTATO SEASONING
¾ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream (not half-and-half)
1 cup finely-grated Asiago cheese
Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring all the while. Do this for 3 minutes.
Sprinkle in the MASHED POTATO SEASONING and cook another minute, stirring constantly.
Whisk in the water; then the cream, whisking continually over medium-low heat until smooth. Continue cooking and stirring with the whisk until sauce has thickened. Thin with water or milk if necessary.
Remove from heat; stir in cheese, whisking until smooth. Cover immediately with a tight lid while the pasta is cooking.
*One cup milk may substitute for the water and cream.
*Do not use half-and-half in this recipe. It may cause the sauce to separate and curdle.
*Any sharp cheese will do; such as Parmesan or aged Provolone. Goat cheese crumbles will also work fine.
For the pasta:
½ pound Lucido’s fresh angel hair or linguine pasta
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Bring water to a full rolling boil. Add salt and pasta; stir a couple of times to make sure the pasta strands are not stuck together. Allow to boil according to size of pasta; 5-7 minutes for angel hair/7-12 minutes for linguine/15 for thicker product such as tubes and spirals.
Drizzle in cooking oil and stir to coat. Cover if not serving immediately; but, it is best to start plating as soon as the pasta is done.
*Fresh pasta does not take as long to cook as regular hard pastas.
*Another flavor of pasta may be used; cook’s choice.
Yield: 4 servings
*Serve with any vegetable, keeping preparation and seasoning simple.
*If pairing with a salad, dress with a vinaigrette instead of a creamy topping.