This is so darn good, I made it twice in one week. And it's so easy, I don't even need to consult the recipe anymore. It's in my head. Forever and ever.
A compound butter is simply softened butter combined with other ingredients; in this case, cashews, because I really, really like cashews. But you can substitute walnuts, pecans, or peanuts.
I purposely do not add salt while preparing this recipe as the butter and cashews have plenty. Just have a shaker of salt handy for those who might need a little more to suit their personal tastes.
Penne in a Compound Butter Sauce
This will make 4 generous servings, and can stretch to 6.
6 TB butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 C roasted, salted cashews
3/4 lb penne pasta
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
2 TB veggie oil
1 lb fresh asparagus
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
First make your compound butter. Place softened butter and cashews in a food processor or blender. Process until a nice paste forms, and the nuts are uniformly chopped. Alternatively, you can finely chop or crush the nuts by hand, and then combine them with the butter. Set aside the mixture, but don't refrigerate.
Trim your chicken boobs, then dice the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Chunking your chicken speeds up the cooking process considerably. Plus, you don't have that problem with the thinner 'tail' part of the fillet getting cooked and dried out before the thicker half is done. I hate that.
Snap off the fibrous ends on your asparagus. A surprise mouthful of woody, stringy, tough asparagus is truly disgusting. (I've had this happen to me in expensive restaurants, where the chef should know better.) Depending on the length, cut the stems into thirds or halves.
Get your pasta to boiling. While that is going, heat the veggie oil in a skillet and add your chicken chunks. Pan-fry until just about done, stirring often. Turn off the heat, cover, and let them finish cooking.
When you've got a couple of minutes left to go on your pasta, add your veggies to the boiling water.
Drain. Return the pasta and veggies to the pot, add the chicken, compound butter and red pepper flakes. Gently toss to coat. Serve hot.
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!