Fresh Off the Menu: Buon Gusto Italian Cuisine and Deli
By Dennis Linden
If pasta is the soul of Italian cuisine, then fresh vegetables provide the body of flavors for that soul.
Italian cuisine really depends upon fresh seasonal ingredients for much of its flavor. Tomato
are the primary ingredients in the fare’s iconic red sauce. Eggplant Parmesan is a traditional classic; without basil there would be no pesto! This month’s featured dish is a tasty pasta recipe from the menu of Buon Gusto
, located in Huntington Beach, CA. The eatery serves traditional Italian fare in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Buon Gusto’s Pasta Alla Dio includes some very common vegetables that dress up this dish with eye appeal as well as farm fresh flavors that add a counterbalance of texture to its creamy sauce and pasta components. It doesn’t get much more basic than broccoli
and the sweetness of sun dried tomatoes
– but these veggies make this dish successful. If pasta is the soul of Italian cuisine, then fresh vegetables provide a body of flavors for that soul!
Buon Gusto translates to “good taste” and this chicken-broccoli-penne pasta dish certainly lives up to the restaurant’s moniker. Plus it’s just plain fun to cook Italian! Especially when the recipe combines garden fresh ingredients with a creamy, two-cheese sauce, a pasta that must be cooked just right and then tossed with succulent sautéed chicken pieces. The dish is actually practical and quick enough in preparation to serve at the family’s dinner table; though, the recipe has a complexity of flavor that would also make it a great main course for entertaining a large group. As with most Italian cuisine, a favorite red vintage is recommended… for the chef while cooking!
As far as the prep for this dish goes, there are three separate components that must be done separately but timed to finish almost simultaneously and in the following order to orchestrate a smooth plating: the penne pasta, blanched broccoli and cheese sauce-chicken mixture. It is a good idea to first prepare all the ingredients for each component and lay them out before starting.
The cheese-chicken mixture requires a layering process that starts with first sautéing the onions and garlic to release their flavors, before sequentially adding the chicken pieces, dried tomatoes, wine, cream reduction, the cheeses and finally the broccoli florets. This all takes time and a little focus, particularly when reducing the cream.
So, while building the chicken-sauce mixture, keep one eye on the boiling pot of pasta and the other on blanching the broccoli without overcooking it. The pasta should be al dente to firm; meaning 5-6 minutes in a rolling boil, no more. Broccoli softens quickly when cooked, so watch it closely. It should be cooked through, yet firm enough to take a toss with the pasta and not break into small pieces. If you have been counting, it’s true, this recipe could use three eyes; but that’s the fun part – stove management!
The creamy sauce mixture also requires some balance. You are going for creamy-smooth without being too thin or too thick. Add more cheese if it’s too thin. It took this writer two attempts to achieve a consistency that I was happy with; the sauce should to be dense enough to cling to the pasta without having a thick, cheesy texture.
At some point in the prep of this dish you will find yourself with three burners going – one steaming, one boiling and one in sauté mode. If you have planned ahead correctly, by counting backwards oddly enough, the culinary moment will come when each component hits the finish line almost together. To incorporate, one option is to mix the pasta into the sauté mix and cook together for a few more minutes. I prefer to toss the pasta with the sauté mixture in a large bowl, sprinkle in a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes for a little spicy heat; then plate immediately and top each serving with a sprinkle of Italian parsley. Chef’s choice as to how to incorporate the components together; either way your glass probably needs filling by now for a toast to Buon Gusto for the good taste you are about to enjoy—a very delicious redundancy! Happy Forks!Recipe
Pasta Alla Dio Buon Gusto
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ medium Perfect Sweet White Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1 large Boned Chicken Breast, split in half, large diced
3 Tablespoons White Wine
1 cup Cream
2 ounces Sun Dried Tomatoes
3 ounces each Parmesan and Romano Cheeses, grated fine
2½ cups Broccoli Florets
, quartered lengthwise
1½ cups Penne Pasta, uncooked
Crushed Red Pepper to taste, optionalItalian Parsley Leaves
, for garnishPreparation
Cook pasta in 3 cups of boiling water or broth for 5-6 minutes (al dente).
Blanch broccoli in boiling water, careful not to overcook, drain and set aside.
Sauté white onions and garlic in olive oil and butter until onions soften.
Add chicken, sauté until all pieces have turned color.
Add sun dried tomatoes and white wine to the sauté, mix thoroughly.
Add cream and simmer, cooking down the cream slightly.
While cream is simmering, slowly mix in the Parmesan and Romano cheeses.
When cheeses have been incorporated and sauce has thickened, add broccoli and sauté for another minute or two.
Toss sautéed mixture with cooked pasta (add red pepper flakes if desired).
Top each serving with Italian parsley and serve immediately.