The Meal Planner

Recipe originally posted Nov 16, 2008.  Photos and text updated Mar 23, 2012.

There used to be an upscale casual dining restaurant in town called La Bella Note. It was one of our favorites and it was so unique in that the restaurant itself was in an old building that used to be a fire hall. On warm summer evenings, you could walk by and see the big fire hall doors wide open with tables spilling out onto the patio for people to enjoy their meal. It even still had the fire pole right in the restaurant. One of their specialties was their fresh homemade pasta. It was such a decadence for Steve and I to get to enjoy fresh pasta and our favorite pasta dish was this Penne al Diavlo. It's a wonderful pesto-cream sauce over chicken, penne, peppers and mushrooms...with a little bit of chili's for kick.

After my husband proposed to me, he surprised me by taking me to La Bella Note. I walked into the restaurant and discovered we were the only ones in there and the servers were there to serve only us. There was romantic jazz music playing, the lights were turned down low and there was a path of candles that led up to a private table. When we got up to the table it was decked out with a big bouquet of beautiful Gerbera daisies (my favorite), a bottle of wine, and as I looked down on the restaurant floor below us there were candles set out into a huge heart on the floor.

Whenever I make this pasta I think about the romance and perfection of that evening. It warms me to my bones and makes me feel loved. That's what comfort food is all about.

Recipe by Meal Planning 101

Serves 4-5

1 lb penne rigate
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 green or red pepper, sliced (or half of looks really pretty that way)
1 450 ml jar (12 oz)  Alfredo sauce
2 heaping tbsp pesto

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Add pasta when boiling.

In a frying pan over medium high heat, heat 1 tbsp oil and saute chicken for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add mushrooms and chili flakes and continue to fry a few more minutes until no longer pink. Add sliced peppers and saute for about 4-5 minutes (this still leaves them with a bit of crunch which is how my husband loves it...if you like them softer, add them with the mushrooms). Once all the veggies and chicken is sauteed, add the jar of alfredo and pesto. Stir and turn down heat to low. Simmer for a couple minutes until the pasta is done.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce.

Click here for printable version of Chicken al Diavlo Penne

I love how quick and easy this pasta is to throw together as well as it's comforting flavors. The pesto in the cream sauce is wonderful. The chili flakes gives it some kick, so if you want it mild just leave it out. My husband and I love this meal, and discovered our 16 month old loves it as well. She couldn't get enough and kept scrounging out of my bowl for more penne. She wasn't even bothered by the spicy kick.

Updated Mar 2012:  I pulled this one out of the archives because it's one of my oldest (and best) recipes on this site, yet it had a terrible picture. I hadn't made this dish in quite awhile, so didn't remember how much we loved it.  My love was rekindled at first bite.  My husband and I ate till we were stuffed and our kids devoured their portions as well.

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4 Responses
  1. Wow! How romantic! Isn't it wonderful how a lovely meal can revive romantic memories? Teriyaki chicken reminds me of when my husband and I were dating. We used to eat all the time at this place called Best Teriyaki (and they meant it too!). Or spending cold evenings eating at a taco cart....good memories plus good food :)

    This sounds delicious and spicy!

    Our little girl too, loves anything daddy is eating...our boys on the other hand are a bit more picky! lol

    Thanks for sharing your romantic story :)

  2. Vanessa Says:

    Such a romantic story. We really enjoyed this dish and thought the alfredo was just right. YUMMY!

  3. ijkl555 Says:

    Hi Kindra,

    I came to your site through Laura's Menu planning monday. I'm so glad I came across your blog.
    This picture looked so enticing, so I really wanted to try it as soon as I saw it. Finally I gave a try today.. it is awesome... Thanks for sharing wonderful recipes with wonderful stories.

    And also, I like the "Results" column in each recipe with your honest opinions..

  4. Marisa Says:

    Great story! And the pasta looks yummy.