When Life Gives You Lemons… You make Pollo Limone (recipe)

I am notoriously frugal. The Hubby and I eat out less than a handful of times a year, usually at a friend or relative’s insistence.  I actually enjoy cooking and I find it painful to shell out $75 for a restaurant  meal when I can make it myself for around $5 and avoid screaming children, rude diners yapping on cellphones and sloppy customer   service. There are always free wine refills at Casa de Vinobaby at a fraction of ridiculous restaurant’s marked-up prices.  (And before you mention it, Hubby does the dishes anyway…)

Those few times we do venture into a restaurant I scour the menu for selections I either do not have the ability to prepare or would never be able to re-create due to the overwhelmingly unhealthy ingredients (i.e. I just can’t put an entire stick of butter in any single-meal recipe, but damn, it’s phenomenal if Paula Deen cooks it for me).

After a hectic day last week I decided take a night off and grab some take-out from Macaroni Grill.  (In other words, I had a gift card to blow.)  While examining the menu online for something new and different I was intrigued by the Pollo Limone Rustica.   My Italian cooling repertoire is pretty diverse.  I have found the recipes for most of Macaroni Grill’s “signature” dishes or I make my own version, but Lemon Chicken sounded perfect for a warm Spring evening of al fresco dining.

“Tender grilled chicken and imported penne pasta sauteed in a lemon basil sauce with fresh spinach and roasted red peppers. Finished with fresh lemon zest and baked until golden.”

Hmmm… My freezer is stocked with frozen lemon wedges from years when our two trees produced a bumper crop. All the necessary ingredients to re-create the dish (for a fraction of the $15 a plate price tag)  called to me from my kitchen.  I had a new project for the evening.   

The results were amazing, if I do say so myself.  Hubby and Kiddo agreed this one is a keeper.

Pollo Limone a la Vinobaby
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
4 cloves crushed garlic
3/4 cup whole milk or cream
3/4 cup chicken broth
chopped fresh basil to taste (I used 1/4 cup)
 pinch of parsley
3 tbsp.lemon juice
1 box frozen creamed spinach cooked  (I used Green Giant)salt & pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
garlic pepper
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (diced or julienned)
4 servings penne pasta (for some that’s a whole box, for us about 2/3 of a box)

Season chicken with salt and garlic pepper.  Grill or saute in olive oil for approximately 4 minutes each side or until cooked through.  Let rest a few minutes then slice into strips.  Set aside.

Cook pasta as instructed on box.  Drain well.

For sauce:  melt the butter in a pan.  Add the garlic and saute lightly 1-2 minutes.  Slowly add the flour, whisking constantly to make the rue.  When mixture is smooth slowly add  milk and chicken broth, still whisking until smooth.  Simmer gently for 5-8 minutes to thicken.  Add cooked creamed spinach, lemon juice, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.     Add sauce to drained pasta and toss. 

Spoon into individual serving bowls. Add sliced chicken breasts.  If desired, add any remaining sauce.  Top with roasted red peppers and Parmesan cheese.  For additional oomph, you may quickly place each serving under broiler to melt/brown cheese. 

Serve with garlic bread, salads and your favorite vino (you deserve it for serving your family such a delicious dinner).  Sit back and enjoy the compliments.


5 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Lemons… You make Pollo Limone (recipe)

  1. Jennifer

    Yummm sounds so good! P.S. my husband also does the dishes…..thats one of the reasons I have stayed married to him for these 14 years.


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