When people mention comfort food, my stomach growls for Grandpa’s Chicken Primavera. This is the very first dish he ever taught me how to make. I was in high school getting ready to go to college and I wasn’t too sure I could do anything in the kitchen. The dorm room wouldn’t allow me anything more than a microwave anyway, but he asked me, “Watchya gonna eat up there, Sugar?” I shrugged and said, “I’ve got a meal ticket to eat at the union and I can’t cook really unless I go downstairs to the community kitchen. I’ll be fine.”
“Well, you’re gonna get tired of that school food. You come over tomorrow and we’ll make something together.”
“Well suuurrrre. We’ll even make dessert.” And so it was a date. I went over to Grandpa’s and we made primavera with a simple iceberg, carrot, tomato, bell pepper and ranch salad and a lemon cake (which I’m going to have to post eventually because we all LOVE that cake). Everyone came over for lunch and I had my first cooking lesson. This particular meal was a family favorite, which he made for us while I was still living at home and long after I graduated from college. There were always smiles all around when my family knew Papa was making his pasta.
The crunchy bell peppers and sweet onions are a perfect addition to the creamy sauce and the chicken makes it hearty. The cream cheese helps make the sauce thick and rich and the marjoram gives it a unique flavor. I use whole wheat egg noodles which is the only thing I’ve changed about Papa’s recipe and that’s because I’ve found that some brands of egg noodles tend to fall apart more quickly than others even when cooking with the correct cooking time. I’ve had much more success with the whole wheat, plus I tell myself it’s okay we’re eating so much cream cheese because we’re also eating whole wheat noodles. LOL Yes, I understand the logic is irrational, but I go with it. I also add parsley to give it a little more color and fresh flavor. Basically, this is a simple meal to whip up on a weeknight and everyone loves it, especially my kiddos.
This was also the first thing I ever cooked for Mike while we were in college so it holds a special place in my heart for multiple reasons. It was his birthday and he was hunting with his dad somewhere in Kaibab National Forest. It was also the night that the Diamondbacks won the world series. I remember all this because I spent my whole day planning how I was going to make him a home-cooked meal. First, I made the walk first to the grocery store (I didn’t have a car my freshman year) then I hiked to the down to the community kitchen with the groceries. Then I hiked back upstairs and down again a few more times for the random things I kept forgetting to bring down with me. Finally I was ready to begin my first solo meal. It took me a whole lot longer than it should have, by the way. Mike didn’t get dropped off as soon as he thought because the boys stopped to watch the Diamondbacks play. It turned out they didn’t get back until pretty late, Mike still had to shower, and I had finished dinner nearly two hours before and left things warming in a crockpot up in my dorm room the whole time. Which meant? By the time we were ready to eat he egg noodles had soaked up as much water as they could and were mushy and falling apart! I was in tears and Mike ate an entire bowl anyway insisting that it still tasted just fine. The morals of the story? Never overcook egg noodles. Yuck. Never leave pasta in a crockpot to stay warm for any length of time. Marry the college boyfriend who eats the terrible food that you’ve attempted to cook for him. 🙂 Or you know, I guess not every story has to have a moral.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 large family can Cream of Mushroom Soup (26 oz)
- 1 8 0z package cream cheese (can use Neufchatel) at room temperature
- 3 1/4 cups milk
- 1 package whole wheat egg noodles, cooked
- 1 tablespoon ground thyme
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground marjoram
- salt & pepper to taste
- fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- In a large pot drizzle in canola oil. Add onions and bell peppers and cook three minutes until onions are beginning to get translucent and peppers are slightly soft.
- Add cubed chicken breast and cook until chicken is cooked through, about five minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- At this point you want to start boiling the water for your pasta.
- Add in the cream of mushroom soup, plus another soup can full of milk. (Which is three and a quarter cups.) Break up the cream cheese and add it to the mixture. Sprinkle in the spices.
- Cook over medium heat until the cream cheese has melted into the sauce.
- Serve the primavera sauce over the egg noodles & garnish with Italian parsley.
Notes – serves 6-8