Chicken, broccoli, and ziti is such a staple when it comes to delicious dinners that are easy to make. For some reason, I always try to put a different twist on these basic dinners to make something new with a unique taste.
I happened to have some broccoli in the fridge, so I began by lightly steaming it in my favorite deep fry pan, just until it turned bright green. I poured it into a bowl and set it aside.
Next up, what to do to change this dish..... I opted to cook up some sweet Italian sausage instead of using chicken. I don't know about you, but I get chicken'ed out after a while. We all use chicken because it is healthy and low in fat, but there is only so much you can do with it!!! I took the casings off of 6 sausages and broke them apart as I cooked them. When done, I just added it to the bowl of broccoli.
The next change was to use some yummy flavors. I had about 8 strips of bacon in the fridge, so I chopped them up, along with half of a Vidalia onion, and cooked them up together. The smell of the bacon and the onion was to die for! So now I have broccoli, sausage, onion, and bacon as ingredients.
The last thing to do is cook the ziti. While it is boiling away, I remembered reading a recipe recently that used goat cheese instead of Parmesan, and I thought what a great way to finish off this "new" broccoli and ziti dish! The tartness of the goat cheese would go really well with the broccoli and bacon/sausage combo.....
Once the pasta was al dente, I put aside a cup of the pasta water to use as a thickener before draining the pasta. I ALWAYS forget to do this, so this time I wanted to make sure I did it. Add the pasta and all the other delicious ingredients together in your pan.
Now for the fun part. I break apart a log of goat cheese and mix it in. Once it has melted, I start adding small amounts of the pasta water until I get the texture I want. I decided to sprinkle in a few flakes of crushed red pepper for some heat, and after tasting it, I had to add just a touch of salt and pepper. I did break down and throw in a little Parmesan cheese at the very end, and it was the perfect ending to my creation!
I have to tell you, the slight change in ingredients and cheese was the best idea! This came out so delicious! I could taste the bacon, the sweet onions, the broccoli with just a little crunch, the sausage, and the best part? the goat cheese! Who knew? I will definitely be using that again....