I just recently discovered the joy of using mascarpone cheese for dishes other than desserts and now I wonder just what took me so long. Mascarpone is is a very soft, creamy cheese with just a hint of sweetness, and although it is wonderful in many of my favorite dessert recipes, it also lends itself wonderfully to pasta and main entree dishes.
I had a small tub of mascarpone in my refrigerator that I needed to use up and decided to incorporate it into an easy pasta dish I had in mind for dinner. I simply mixed the creamy mascarpone with some lemon zest, lemon juice and lots of cracked black pepper for the sauce.
I sauteed some cubes of chicken thighs, added some chopped sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach and in under 30 minutes I had a delicious main course pasta dish. Since the mascarpone is so thick and creamy, you can thin it a bit using some of the pasta water when mixing it into the hot, cooked pasta.
I used a package of artisan pasta shells in my version, but almost any pasta shape would work as the mascarpone clings nicely to the pasta. To top my pasta dish, I fried up some coarse breadcrumbs in olive oil with a bit of garlic, but grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese would also work. In place of the chicken, sauteed shrimp would also work nicely with the lemon flavored mascarpone sauce.
- 1 Cup Mascarpone Cheese At Room Temperature
- Zest & Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
- 3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, Cleaned Of Fat And Cut Into 1 Inch Dice
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 1 (9 Ounce) Bag Baby Spinach
- 1 (500 Gram) Package Pasta
- Sauteed Garlic Breadcrumbs or
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano/ Pecorino Cheese
- Combine the zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, and pepper in a bowl, and whisk to combine.
- Bring a pasta pot of salted water to boil.
- While waiting on the water, heat the oil in a skillet, and cook the chicken until it is cooked through and just beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes .
- Add the garlic and cook another minute or two, then season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta until al dente, taking it off the heat about 1 to 2 minutes before you would normally remove it.
- Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot, and set over medium heat.
- Stir in the mascarpone and lemon mixture, the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach.
- Loosen the sauce with about 1/4 cup of the water and toss all over the ingredients together until the spinach has wilted and everything is piping hot, adding a little additional pasta water if needed.
- Serve immediately, topped with grated cheese or sauteed breadcrumbs.