Lemon Chicken Dijon with Toasted Nuts & Pasta Shells

LEMON CHICKEN DIJON WITH TOASTED NUTS AND PASTA SHELLS – 4 to 6 servings

  • 1½ to 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into serving pieces
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
  • ¼ cup Dijon-style prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 quarts boiling lightly salted water
  • 4 cups pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Toasted pine nuts or cashews as desired (see note)
  • Additional paprika for garnish (optional)

Arrange chicken pieces in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  In a small bowl, combine the butter, mustard, lemon juice, brown sugar, lemon peel, and paprika, blending well.  Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.  Evenly brush half of the mustard mixture over the chicken pieces.  Bake, uncovered, in a preheated moderate oven (375 degrees F.) for 15 minutes.  Turn (over) the chicken pieces and evenly brush the remaining mustard mixture over the chicken pieces.  Continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken pieces are fork tender. 

During the last 15 minutes of the chicken baking, prepare pasta.  Cook pasta shells according to package directions in 3 quarts boiling salted water to which olive oil has been added; drain thoroughly. 

To serve, place hot cooked pasta in a serving bowl, or evenly divide onto dinner plates.  Top with chicken and sauce.  Garnish serving bowl or individual servings with toasted pine nuts or cashews.  May also garnish with an additional sprinkle of paprika, if desired.

Note:  To toast pine nuts or cashews, arrange nuts in one layer on an ungreased baking sheet; bake in a  preheated slow oven (300 degrees F.) for about 8 to 10 minutes or until nuts are a golden brown.  

Variation: Omit chicken; use 1½ to 2 pounds fish fillet(s) of choice.  Prepare as previously directed; however, only bake about 10 minutes per side or until fish is opaque in color and flakes easily with a fork.

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