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CHICKEN TENDERS WITH SAFFRON SPAGHETTI AND ASPARAGUS
This is a product of my overactive imagination---that turned out delicious! The pasta idea came from Rachel Ray's program, which I added to, took away from, and otherwise updated it on 5/13/10. Other vegetables can be substituted for the asparagus. Other small cuts of chicken, fish or lean pork can be substituted for the chicken tenders.

Serves 4-6

CHICKEN MARINADE:
1 pound chicken breast tenderloins
1 tablespoon lemon juice -- 2 capfuls
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar -- 2 capfuls
2 teaspoons house seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
ASPARAGUS:
1 bunch asparagus spears
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
PASTA:
8 ounces whole grain thin spaghetti -- or other pasta
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons mninced garlic
2 pinches saffron threads -- 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch red pepper flakes
Coarse Ground pepper -- to garnish
Torm fresh basil leaves to garnish

CHICKEN: Place the chicken pieces into a quart-size Zip-Loc bag and add the remaining marinade ingredients and toss to coat well. Seal and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Coat a cold stovetop grill lightly with olive or canola oil and heat over medium-high. Add the chicken tenders to the pan and cook over high heat about 3-4 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook about 3 minutes longer. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

ASPARAGUS: Cut off only about 2 inches of the spear tips and place into a small saucepan with the salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until al dente, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside.

PASTA: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, salt and garlic and cook until al dente. Remove about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water and set aside.

Drain the pasta. To the same pot, melt the butter and return the pasta to the pan. Pour saffron water and reserved cooking water over the pasta and toss to combine. Add the cheese and season with red pepper flakes and pepper. Toss the spaghetti to coat evenly in golden sauce.

TO SERVE: Pile pasta onto individual serving plates and top with asparagus tips. Add the chicken and garnish if desired. Serve immediately with additional Paarmesan cheese.

Nutritional Analysis using chicken and asparagus: Per Serving: Calories 440
Natural Sugars 10.4g; Total Carbohydrates 68g; Fat 6g; Sodium 815mg; Cholesterol 60mg; Protein 45.5g; Fibetr 10.6g; Potassium 550mg

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