Mostaccioli with Lemon Parmesan Coconut Milk
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I’m going to really go out on a limb, here. I found out yesterday that coconut milk has a strong tendency to curdle when heated. So, while I’ve never had that particular problem, now I’m paranoid. Personally, I think ignorance is bliss.
To make this even more risky, I am going to try making this awesome pasta dish with lemon AND coconut milk. We’ll see!
I’ve made this dish a number of times over the past many years, and I usually throw in thinly sliced fresh basil, instead of the parsley. Since it isn’t gardening season, no basil, which is too bad.
And I’ve always used whipping cream. I’ll be honest — this dish tonight isn’t going to be nearly as rich as when using cream. But neither will it contribute to my muffin top.
I am such an idiot; sometimes I just can’t get over myself. Yesterday, I was warning that you should open up the coconut milk and pour it into a mason jar or 2 cup measuring cup and whisk to incorporate the coconut cream that rises to the top, so you wouldn’t spill.
Then I find out today that, by adding a one teaspoon of cornstarch to the cold coconut milk, you’ll decrease your chances of it curdling while cooking.
So, here I am, mixing in the cornstarch to the remainder of my can of coconut milk. I needed a bit more, so I went back into the pantry, washed off the lid of the can, opened it, and brought it over to the cutting board. I was busy whisking one container with the cornstarch with my right hand, so I thought I’d pour the can of coconut milk into a mason jar with my left.
My left hand is not good for much, especially something requiring a modicum of dexterity. I couldn’t hit the narrow mouth on that mason jar to save my life. The result? About ¼ cup of wasted coconut milk, dribbling down the outside of the mason jar and onto my cutting board. So irritating! When will I learn?
I’m going to give you the original recipe for this dish. It’s very, very yummy. I add chicken, too.
I would strongly recommend doubling the sauce. I don’t think one cup of anything is going to be enough sauce to cover an entire pound of pasta!
Mostaccioli with Lemon Parmesan Cream
Chicken breasts, sliced thinly and sauteed
1 pound dried cavatappi, rigatoni or small shells (I used mostaccioli, because I’m a rebel)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup whipping cream (I used one cup light coconut milk mixed with one teaspoon cornstarch)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used cherry tomatoes)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley (or basil leaves)
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of one lemon
Since I am adding sautéed chicken: Slice chicken breasts into thin slices.
Heat a large, non-reactive skillet on medium high. When hot, add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and saute´ until chicken slices are browned. They won’t take long, if they’re thin. Remove to a pie plate.
Cook pasta according to directions and drain but don’t rinse. You’ll need the starch to thicken the sauce, especially if you use coconut milk. Set aside.
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a small, non-reactive saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and saute´ 30 seconds; do not brown. My small All-Clad saucepan is so beautiful and shiny and heavy. Check it out on Amazon. You will love it!
Add lemon zest and cream (or 1 cup coconut oil mixed with one teaspoon cornstarch), bring to a high bubble and cook, about 6 minutes, until sauce thickens. If you stir constantly, it won’t curdle, but you can’t walk away!
Reheat your large skillet to medium. Transfer your cream sauce to the original large skillet in which you cooked your chicken.
Add sauteed chicken, then tomato, parmesan, parsley and cooked pasta. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Heat through. Squeeze lemon juice over all and mix well.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan.
I hope you like this lighter version. Excuse me while I go make yet another salad. I’m afraid the cherry tomatoes don’t really cut it.