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When the food budget is tight (which it always is now that gas/food prices are creeping up every day) it’s clean-out-the-Frigidaire time at Chateau Nelson. This recipe is the result of one such night, and I didn’t want to forget it because it turned out quite tasty. All that is to say, throw in whatever is in your fridge to make this your own personal fridge-cleaner-outer.

1 lb. penne
1 zucchini, sliced paper-thin (I used my mandoline slicer for this – love that thing)
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced paper-thin (mandoline slicer, but watch your fingers)
1 sweet onion, sliced into semicircles (not on the mandoline unless yours can handle onions)
1 tablespoon butter
15 oz. ricotta cheese (I could have sworn this used to come in 16-oz. containers)
1 large boneless/skinless chicken breast, grilled and chopped
XV olive oil
salt & pepper

Boil the pasta until al dente (I usually go one minute less than the shortest time on the box directions) and immediately strain. After straining, stir in a little olive oil, zucchini, and garlic so the heat from the pasta cooks the vegetables.

While your pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan and add onions when hot. Cook until they’re a tasty golden color (caramelized). Add a teaspoon or so of sugar if you want them extra sweet.

Combine pasta/vegetables, caramelized onions, ricotta, and chicken, then add parmesan, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Variations: Bacon, of course, never hurt anything. Asparagus would be good (throw it in with the pasta for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking). Fresh or sundried tomatoes would also be tasty.