This is slightly healthier than it might sound—but just as delicious! To make it even better for you, choosing light cream cheese cuts down on the fat and the dish works just as well with whole wheat pasta.

  • 2 leeks
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Small piece of butter
  • Splash of white wine or Noilly Prat vermouth
  • 3 1/2 to 5 1/4 oz [100 to 150 g] penne
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put a large saucepan of cold water, with a dash of salt, onto boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, wash and slice the leeks into 3/8-in [1-cm] thick circles. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size chunks, about 3/4 in [2 cm] big.

While the water is heating up for the pasta, put the butter in a heavybottom pan over low heat. Once the butter begins to foam, add the leeks and wine and cover the pan. Cook, stirring regularly, until the leeks have softened.

Put the pasta in the pan of boiling water at this stage and cook it according to the package directions.

While the leeks and pasta cook, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over high heat, brown the chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper as you do so. Once it has browned, add it to the leeks and continue to cook until the chicken pieces are cooked through. If you’re using tarragon, stir it in now.

Prepare the sauce by mixing the cream cheese, mustard, milk, and a grind of pepper. Taste and adjust to your palate.

When everything is cooked, drain the pasta and put it back into the dry saucepan with the chicken and leek mixture and the sauce. Adjust the seasoning, stir, and plate up half of it. Let the rest cool, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use in the next recipe.

Add a little lemon juice, if desired. The pasta is perfect served with some garlic ciabatta and a glass of white wine.

Excerpted from Meals for Me: One Core Ingredient, Two Delicious Meals by Sam Stern, photos by Lisa Linder by arrangement with Quadrille Publishing, distributed by Chronicle Books, Copyright © 2016 by Sam Stern, Lisa Linder.