Back in 1991, three New Orleans chefs got together and created a unique, local restaurant chain called Semolina. Their concept paired classic New Orleans and international dishes with pasta. The original menu enticed diners with options ranging from Muffuletta Pasta and Jambalaya Pasta to Chicken Enchilada Pasta and Pad Thai Pasta. Curiosity may have lured many diners in. But it was Semolina’s delicious execution of these one-of-a-kind offerings, friendly service and pre-dinner Peach Bellinis (among other weekly drink specials) that kept them–and me–coming back. When I moved to Atlanta in ’95, there was a Semolina restaurant in every Greater New Orleans neighborhood and a handful sprinkled throughout Louisiana. Currently, only one remains. It’s located in the Clearview Mall in Metairie.
Since its inception, the restaurant has generously shared its recipes with the public and I think I’ve prepared every one of its pasta entrees I’ve seen in print. But some of them, like the Jambalaya Pasta, are more time-consuming than others and call for a bunch of ingredients and various steps. The “Roban” recipe, on the other hand, is super simple and super tasty. It can be made with your choice of protein and pasta. The current Semolina menu offers Shrimp Roban with shell pasta. But if I’m not misstaken, I think they introduced this dish way back when as Crawfish Roban with the same type of pasta. My version is made with linguine and chicken and is just as delicious as those other options.
Chicken Roban Recipe
1 pound linguine pasta
4 tablespoons butter
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart heavy cream
1/3 cup Blackened Seasoning Mix
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add green onions and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 2-3 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and Blackened Seasoning Mix; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cream is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to hot pan and cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Stir cooked chicken and cooked pasta into cream sauce and cook an additional 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Makes 6-8 servings.