In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge, huge fan of all things Italian. One of the lessons Americans can learn from their Italian neighbors is how to eat – how to enjoy every bite. Have you ever dined with true Italians? Sure, there’s a lot of food, but it’s more than just the food. Italians have an approach to dining Americans need to adapt.
Years ago, we had Christmas Eve Supper with some dear Italian friends. The meal began at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Sometime around 11 that night, we pushed ourselves away from the table. And not because all the food had been eaten (although I could not have taken another bite) but because it was time to roll ourselves to Midnight Mass. Granted, the Feast of Seven Fishes was extraordinary. But it wasn’t just on Feast Days that our friends taught us the meaning of savoring time. When we would meet them out for dinner at one of the many fabulous Five-Star Italian joints in town, dinner would begin at a reasonable time, and end with us being the last patrons in the place. Long meal, deep conversation and ties that bind forever, that is the way every meal should be approached.
Have you ever asked yourself why the rush? Slow down – savor this life while you can. Whatever it is your are rushing off to, it will still be there later. And if not, did you really need it that much? Americans, we are always in a hurry.
Slow-Cooker Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon Tuscan Seasoning Blend
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs, Boneless
8 oz Campanella Pasta
1/2 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Herbs in Oil
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 cup Three-Cheese Italian Blend
5 oz Fresh Baby Spinach
Spray a 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Mix chicken stock, Tuscan Seasoning, salt and pepper flakes together in the crock of the slow cooker. Set aside.
Cut chicken thighs into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add to the slow cooker. Cover; cook on HIGH for about 2 hours.
Stir in the uncooked pasta. Drain the sun-dried tomato oils directly into the pot. Carefully dice the tomatoes, adding to the slow cooker. Cover again, and continue to cook on HIGH for about 30 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Stir twice to keep things from sticking together.
Cut the cream cheese into cubes. Add to the slow cooker. Sprinkle in the cheese blend. Stir and continue to cook a few minutes longer, until the cheeses have melted into the pot.
Turn off the heat. Stir in the baby spinach. Let leaves wilt and the sauce to thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir once more before serving.