Bayou to the Bay Invitation
“Bayou to the Bay” Invitation

I was recently invited to participate in Barilla Pasta and Chef’s Roll “Bayou to the Bay” contest. An honor extended to a few selected chefs. The mission: To create a Southern inspired dish using one of four given pasta varieties. As soon as I read the words, “Southern inspired”, my mind immediately went to fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens! Then I thought, how could I bring all those flavors to life in a pasta dish?

I, of course, drew inspiration on what I know best, leftovers. I remembered a Tuesday’s Tip video I did making a cream sauce out of leftover pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese, another Southern treat, so I decided I’d start there. One thought of pimento cheese gave me another thought-my pimento cheese stuffed pecans, it was then that I decided that I needed to have pecans in my dish. When creating a dish, I not only “cook” it in my head before getting in the kitchen, but I also write it out and draw it. (Mind you my drawing is stick figure level adaptations, but it works for a visual!) I talked all about my creative process on my last appearance on the popular podcast, Pardon My Fork.

After a little bit of brainstorming, I came up with my Southern Comfort bowl. A hickory smoked pimento cheese pasta over a bed of sautéed pecan collard greens with fried chicken “chips” sprinkled with Andouille “bacon”. Yes, fried chicken “chips”, like the ones I topped with caramelized onions, apples, and bleu cheese.

The contest winner will receive an amazing culinary opportunity at White Oak Plantation. For me, that would definitely be a dream come true. Not only is Chef John Folse one of my favorite Louisiana chefs, but the plantation is almost in my backyard! In addition to the grand prize winner, there are many more chef treasures to be won from the People’s Choice awards. What is the People’s Choice? It’s the chefs with the most votes for their dish. (Yes, that is a plug to please vote for me and for my dish.) It’s quick and easy. Simply click here. Scroll to my dish and vote! Thanks!

Southern Comfort Bowl
Southern Comfort

Here’s the recipe for my Southern Comfort Bowl, only this one I changed the ingredients to incorporate leftover pimento cheese.

Southern Comfort Bowl
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Yield: 4

Southern Comfort Bowl


    For the Cajun Fried Chicken Chips:
  • 1 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • Canola oil, for frying
    For the Pimento Cheese Pasta
  • 8 oz Barilla Campanelle pasta
  • 1/2 cup leftover pimento cheese
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp hot sauce
  • 2 TBSP butter, unsalted
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half and half
    For the Sautéed Pecan Collard Greens
  • 1 TBSP extra light olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups shredded collard greens
  • ¼ cup diced pecans
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Fresh cracked black pepper and salt, to taste
  • 1 link Andouille sausage


    For the Cajun Fried Chicken Chips:
  1. Freeze chicken for 1 hour. Mix flour and Cajun seasoning together in a bowl. Add hot sauce to another bowl. After 1 hour, remove chicken from freezer. Cut into thin slices or “chips”. Put chips in bowl with hot sauce. Coat well. Dredge chicken chips into flour. Heat oil to 375*. Fry chips for 1 minute per side or until golden brown. Remove and drain.
    For the Pimento Cheese Pasta:
  1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour. Slowly add milk, garlic powder, paprika, and hot sauce. Whisk until thickened. Stir in leftover pimento cheese. Stir until melted.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add Barilla campanelle pasta. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Mix into pimento cheese sauce.
    For the Sautéed Pecan Collard Greens:
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic. Sauté 1 minute. Stir in collard greens and chicken stock. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often and stirring in pecans the last minute. Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
  2. In a food processor, add Andouille sausage. Process until minced into bits. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add sausage. Cook until brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towel.
  3. To Serve: Place collard greens in bowl, top with pimento cheese pasta and fried chicken chips, and sprinkle Andouille “bacon” bits on top.

Southern Comfort Bowl with Barilla Pasta

You can still cast a vote for me and my Southern Comfort Bowl here.

Put On Your TO COOK IS TO CREATE Thinking Cap: Not a collard green fan? Simply sauté your favorite greens like turnip, spinach, kale, or mustard. No pecans? Use other nuts like almonds or walnuts. No leftover pimento cheese? Simply make your favorite macaroni and cheese, or even better use the leftovers. In the mood for fish? You can use catfish the same way as the chicken! Bacon lover? Add bacon to the greens, the pimento cheese sauce, and the garnish. This dish also makes a great brunch special, simply add a poached egg. Have a leftover piece of fried chicken? Use it. Have leftover pimento cheese sauce? Use it to top steamed vegetables or baked potatoes. This dish can even be layered in a casserole, topped with chicken breasts, and baked , too. Leftover collard greens and pecans? Make a pesto sauce and freeze it for later use.

FOOD FUN: If you are a pimento cheese lover and just can’t get enough, then you need to head out on the highway… to Cary, North Carolina for the second annual pimento cheese festival. It’s June 8 this year, so there’s still time to plan. Need your taste buds tempted? There will be fried pimento cheese pies! Anything with the words fried and cheese in it is a winner to me!

Speaking of winning…here’s another shameless plug for a VOTE!


Southern Comfort Bowl
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One thought on “Southern Comfort Bowl

  • April 29, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Delicious dish…..Southern Comfort Bowl certainly did comfort my hungry stomach. The flavors are tasty and compliment one another. I most definitely will cook this recipe again and again. We absolutely love it. 🙂


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