pasta rosa with chicken and spinach... a creative process

     My home kitchen serves a test kitchen for new stuff... My family are the guinea pigs. They won't be surprised by that statement if reading this.
     When trying out a recipe that could possibly serve a couple hundred hungry church members, I first prepare it as written. If it doesn't receive rave reviews, a few adjustments are in order.
     The following recipe originally contained Italian sausage, but the chunky, chewy texture was not well received by the kids at home... I suspected it wouldn't go over well at church either. Kayla suggested adding the chicken... Hey, maybe she has been paying attention in the kitchen!
     But herein lies my dilemma: I love to flavor my homemade red sauce with a little ground pork or Italian sausage. It gives it depth and that extra richness. For this sauce, I finely ground the sausage, so it would not be noticeable.
     Finally, the dish came together. It is now what it always wanted to be... healthy, light and really delicious! By making red sauce in advance and using cooked chicken, this meal is a snap to prepare.
     The cream makes it a nice rosy color and adding spinach is an unobtrusive way to feed your veggie haters some dark green stuff... all without bloodshed, hand-wringing, wailing or gnashing of teeth!
     I did a little quantity adjustment and served it for a Wednesday Night Supper at church. It was a huge hit. I think you'll like it as well.
wednesday night supper?
1 pound mostaccioli or penne
small amount of pasta cooking water
2 qts. homemade marinara sauce
1 c. cooked chicken, very finely chopped
2 c. fresh spinach leaves
2 T. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. heavy cream
Cook pasta and drain, reserving a cup of pasta cooking water. Meanwhile, heat the red sauce and add chicken. Cook for about 30 minutes. Add spinach, Parmesan, lots of black pepper and half of parsley to sauce. Stir to blend and wilt spinach leaves.
At the last minute, add the cream and heat until warm. In the pasta pot or a large serving bowl, toss sauce with pasta. Add small amount of cooking water if needed. Serve topped with more Parmesan and remaining parsley.

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