Think about the standard, stereotypical romantic movie dinner scene. In it, the two lovers-to-be are usually eating pasta with some complicated looking sauce and sipping wine. Perhaps the most classic iteration of this dish is spaghetti with chicken and mushroom sauce. However, while this meal is usually thought of as professional and gourmet, it can easily be simplified into something for the college student. So long as you have a pan, a pot, an oven, and some candlelight for the table, this famous dish can be reproduced in a much simpler fashion without losing any of the flavor.
- 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
- garlic powder
- 1/2 cup white grape juice
- 1 package spaghetti
- Around 20 baby bella mushrooms
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- Place the chicken in a greased baking dish and season both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Drizzle some olive oil and 1/4 cup of the grape juice over the chicken.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the chicken is just opaque yet still tender.
- Allow the chicken to sit for 5 minutes before cutting into it.
- Boil water in a medium-large pot and add some salt and olive oil.
- Prepare the spaghetti according to the directions on the package.
- Add some olive oil to pan over medium-high heat.
- Slice the mushrooms into 1/8-1/4 inch wide slices.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup grape juice to the pan.
- Sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked through but still chewy on the outside.
Why this recipe is good for college students: All jokes aside, this really is a great dinner for a few friends, and whatever leftovers you have will keep very well for a couple of days in the fridge. Additionally, unlike most fancy-shmancy mushroom sauce recipes, this one doesn’t call for red wine, which is good because college students would rather save wine to drink. Lastly, this recipe lends itself exceedingly well to time-efficiency. While the oven is preheating you can prepare the chicken, while the chicken is baking you can boil the water, while the water is boiling you can cut the mushrooms, and when the water is done boiling you can put the spaghetti in the pot and the mushrooms in the pan. So you end up having all components of the meal done at the same time and no time wasted.
Why this recipe is good for those who keep Kosher: Most authentic mushroom sauce recipes call for some sort of cream to thicken the sauce. However, leaving out the cream really only changes the consistency of the sauce, but not the flavor of the mushrooms themselves, so it’s not a big deal at all.
What I would do differently if I made this recipe again
- The grape juice was a total shot in the dark. I wanted to see if the same flavor could be obtained without using wine. I’m not really sure if the grape juice did anything at all, but it definitely didn’t hurt. Anyway, I would probably experiment with adding more grape juice to see if there’s a perfect balancing point for adding its flavor without making the dish too sweet.
- I thought I could get away with smushing all of the spaghetti into a pot which was clearly too small. All of the spaghetti cooked, but some of the noodles weren’t cooked evenly. In the future I would make sure to use the proper size pot.