12 May 2010

Grilled Chicken and Pasta Fonduta with Tomatoes

Grilled Chicken and Pasta Fonduta with Tomatoes

On my recent trip to Seattle I travelled with 40 women on a "Shop Till You Drop" weekend. A friend of mine puts these trips together several times a year and as you can imagine we are a diverse group of women of all age groups. While we travel as a group we have varying interests and the one thing that suits all of our needs is our capability to shape our weekend  to suit our own schedules and tastes. Some of us travel to simply shop, frequent every outlet mall between here and Seattle, and pay lots of duty. This is mecca for the shopaholics. Others go to gamble, some just  to relax and swim at the pool at the hotel and explore the immediate neighbourhood. Like many I am not adverse to shopping but really enjoy the flexibility this trip offers each of us. So, in true "foodie" fashion you will find me downtown at Pike Place Market at Sur la Table. This time around I was able to join Jan Marie once again on her tour of the market and also join a  fellow food blogger and new friend at an exceptional restaurant for the evening...more about that later.

With all this activity one thing is for certain when the ladies and I are all together we have to replenish our energy... we have to eat. Two of the favourite standbys for large groups are P.F. Changs and The Olive Garden.. neither of which we have in our area.

I am a creature of habit so when I head to the Olive Garden I want a dish that combines two of my favourites chicken and pasta. My latest favourite there is Chicken Fonduta. The version at Olive Garden has 1,080 calories. Yes 1,080 calories, can you believe it!!!! Good thing I have a small appetite and so ended up having the second half of the dish the next day!!! The recipe that follows is a lightened up and seasonal version with leeks and asparagus.

This dish is based on Fonduta which is a highly regarded local specialty in the mountainous Piedmont region of Northern Italy. The dish, a cheese fondue enriched with egg and milk, is usually served as an appetizer accompanied by toast or in puff pastry shells. The enticing concoction also can serve as an easy-to-make quick sauce for pasta. I read that the first recipes found for fondue included eggs... which fonduta includes to this day. This version does not include eggs to reduce the caloric intake . Other ingredients are butter, milk, grappa and Fontina cheese when it’s still relatively young and creamy. This cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, has a milk fat content of 45%, and little holes in it that look like air bubbles.

When this sauce is served with pasta it is typically adorned with thinly shaved white truffles. If you have truffle oil add it to the fonduta just before adding it to the pasta if truffles are not available. The addition of grappa not only gives the impression that the dish is lighter, but also adds a fruity flavour to the nutty fontina cheese used in the sauce. Another favourite for me is to add cooked shallots or leeks and steamed asparagus for my Spring time twist.  In the recipe below I am trying to emulate how this dish is served at the Olive Garden so I topped the dish with small diced campari and yellow heirloom tomatoes with the addition of a little olive oil and served it alongside grilled chicken.

I am sending this recipe over to Ruth at Once Upon a Feast the "pasta queen" for her popular event. I try and join in on the fun whenever I have pasta over at Presto Pasta Nights. My cupboards are always full of pasta in countless shapes and sizes. It is too hard to resist at our local Italian grocers, especially since they have expanded!!! I want to have pasta every day of the year!!!!  Presto Pasta Nights event has been the baby of  Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast for over 3 glorious years. Whenever we feel the urge for some pasta we can go over to her site and have 3 years of entries from all over the world to choose from from pasta salad to lasagna to Pho. This week this popular event is being hosted by Chaya of Comfy Cook so head on over there on Friday and soak in the pasta dishes.

“Cento anni di salute e felicit√† !” (One hundred years of health and happiness)

**Grilled Chicken with Spring Pasta Fonduta and Tomatoes**

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup leeks or shallots chopped
1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound/8 oz./1 cup Fontina cheese
1-2 tablespoons grappa
salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

4 grilled and marinated boneless chicken breasts
2 yellow Heirloom tomatoes, finely diced
2 Campari tomatoes, finely diced
olive oil

Mix campari and heirloom tomatoes together in a small bowl. Add olive oil and set aside.

In a large pot cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Cover the pot with the lid.

Scald the milk in a medium, non reactive saucepan. In a separate small skillet add the butter. When the butter foams add the chopped leeks of shallots. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the flour. Stir together and cook until pale gold in colour. Stir in 1/2 cup of the scaled milk to create a bechamel sauce. Add all of this to the remaining milk in the other pan. Turn the heat to medium high. Add the fontina cheese and keep stirring until it melts. Add the grappa, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Strain the fonduta through a sieve directly into the pot with the pasta. Stir thoroughly to cover pasta.

To serve,  place 1 cup pasta on platter. Top with grilled chicken breast and then tomato mixture. Enjoy!!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. im making this pasta fonduta soon!love it!

  2. What a beautiful looking and delicious looking dish. I'd say it's way better than anything at the Olive Garden. I'm already having a craving for that sauce.

  3. Val, I've been thinking about blogging about my Nonna's fonduta- SOOOOO good. I'm definitely trying this lightened up version!
    xoxo Pttie

  4. Val, your trip sounds like fun. I would go for the food too, although I can shop with the best of them.

    That chicken dish is drop-dead-gorgeous. We just started a low carb diet, so I'm going to try it sans the pasta. I think it will be great.

  5. I'm not familiar with fonduta but I can say I would lick that plate clean! Your healthier version sounds light and refreshing, especially with the addition of heirloom tomatoes. Absolutely beautiful Val!

  6. This is truly superb. What a stunning dish and I am sure it tastes as good as it looks.

    Thanks for sharing this with Presto Pasta Nights.

  7. I just love the name fonduta - I will have to give this a try.

  8. That looks delicious! Great trip!



  9. Your trip sounds like SO MUCH FUN! What an awesome time you must have had.

    I love your version of this pasta infinitely better than the Olive Garden's! 1,080 calories = crazy! Fresh veggies and homemade pasta are more my style.

  10. Thanks for the food tour. This is truly a bright and beautiful dish! I'm so glad you lightened it up so I won't have to feel bad about trying it.

  11. The chicken looks incredible. I've never tried fonduta, it looks delicious!

  12. This is beautiful! I love the colors and the combination of flavors.

  13. Your gal trips sound like loads of fun! I would be right there with you at Pike Market. Seattle is such a fun city! This dish looks so fresh and yummy! I enjoyed reading about where it comes from. :)

  14. Oooh I need to make this - it really does look delicious!

  15. I've never heard of Fonduta - it looks delicious though

  16. I haven't visited for a while now... love the new look of the blog your signature!! :)

  17. I'm with you, Val. I love browsing through Pike Market. There's always so much going on and it's fun to watch them throw the fish.

    This looks like a scrumptious chicken and pasta dish.

  18. You did a wonderful job of lightening up this dish. It looks like it's delicious, not missing a thing. Good call putting grappa in; it sounds like that would really make the flavor profile interesting.

  19. What a gorgeous looking plate. The recipe sounds divine and will be tried here very soon. The trip sounds really delightful. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  20. Your new blog layout is great! Delicious recipe.

  21. nice to see this tasty dish lightened up a bit! i imagine that 40 women traveling a pack would be an intimidating sight indeed. :)

  22. I would really love to do a trip like this with a group of women. I love to shop and eat out! I live in Victoria...is this an organized tour-would someone like me be able to sign up for one?

    Any info you can share would be great.

    I realize it might not work but I sure would love to make it happen!

    No one I know likes to do that kind of trip. :-(

  23. I think we need to organize a tour like that here. Sounds fun.

    Your recipe sounds really good too.

  24. I always try to look at a restaurant plate and realize that the calories are twice what they should be and try to only eat half ... works sometimes! It's really that silly portion control thing isn't it.
    The other thing is if your friend is a pea in the pod and likes the same thing you do, I say split it. I'd be more than happy to split this with you ;0)

  25. Looks really good! And now that we finally have an Olive Garden I'll know what not to order ;) I can just make it at home now.


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