Most of this blog is the various baking treats and desserts I love to make, but now and then, I find a recipe that I try, adapt, love, and really want to share with you all. Today’s is one of those; a dinner we made because we didn’t have a whole lot floating around the fridge, but it turned out great and is quickly becoming a staple.
What is it? It’s a protein — beef in this case, but we love chicken too — with a pasta, a lemon-cream sauce, and feta melted in and on top. It’s tangy, it’s herby, it’s cheesy, and it’s delicious.
So, let’s talk about the ingredients.
The sauce is a pretty standard creamy lemon sauce, I make it for all sorts of different things. You add some richness to it by searing up the meat in some butter and spices first, so the bits of rendered fat and other leavings form a stronger base for the sauce itself. Then you melt some butter, add and cook some garlic, add some lemon and chicken broth, and use that to cook the pasta.
The sauce calls for heavy cream at the end to thicken and reduce it. If you don’t have heavy cream, you can also use whole milk, but you’ll want to thicken it somehow. You can reduce it purely by heat, but a shortcut is to make a paste with flour and cold water that you can add in as a thickener.
My pictures and my recipe call for rotini. I like it as a sort of standard alternative to macaroni, so I always have some on hand. It’s great for picking up and clinging to a sauce with all the swirls, so it’s excellent for this recipe.
That said, you can also try penne, gemelli, fusilli, or even radiatore instead. I wouldn’t use a noodle with a smoother exterior; you want something to hang onto the sauce.
The Meat (or Protein)
The pictures I have today are from when I made this meal using beef. Honestly, I think chicken works better; this is a great recipe for a handful of chicken thighs. If you use beef, get a tender cut, otherwise it can end up tough and chewy.
You can also use whatever alternative protein you want. It would probably work fine with some pork chops, and I could see an argument for tofu if you’re the kind of person who enjoys it. I’m not, so I don’t know for sure, though.
So, how do you make this delicious dinner?
One-Pan Lemon Beef with Rotini and Feta
- 1 Large Pan with Lid Make sure it's deep enough to contain the pasta + sauce.
- 1 Bowl
- 1 Lb Chicken Thighs or Chopped Beef Or any other protein of your choice.
- 1½ Tbsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
- 3 Tbsp Butter
- 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Lemon Juice and Zest
- 8 Oz Rotini Or another pasta of your choice; see post.
- ¼ Cup Parmesan Grated
- 2 Oz Crumbled Feta Plus extra for topping.
- Pat your meat dry with some paper towel and season it with half the Italian seasoning, plus a bit of salt and pepper.
- In your high-sided pan, heat your cooking oil over medium-high. For beef, give it a quick sear, about 2-3 minutes per side. For chicken, cook it about 5 minutes per side, browning it a bit. Either way, remove it from the pan and set it aside in your bowl.
- Reduce your heat to medium and melt the butter in the pan.
- Add the garlic and cook it for about a minute, to get it aromatic. Then add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and zest, and bring it to a boil.
- Stir in your pasta and put the meat back in the skillet. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. You're looking for your meat to be cooked, so 160℉ for beef or 165℉ for chicken.
- Once the meat is done and the pasta is cooked, remove the meat again. Add the feta, Parmesan, and remaining Italian seasoning. Stir until the cheese melts and mixes to thicken the sauce.
- Mix the meat back in and serve. Top with additional feta and enjoy!