Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pasta with chicken and grape tomatoes

I pinned this recipe long ago, and just now got a chance to cook it (or lets put it this way: I had very boring chicken breasts in the fridge which had to be cooked asap and the simpler, the better).
The recipe is VERY easy, also giving you room for your own additions and experiments.
You can arrange the whole dinner in less than 30 minutes, thus it makes a perfect choice for busy weeknights.
 I personally love pasta with less ingredients. I used to overload the pasta dishes with vegetables, meats and cheeses, and the whole point of pasta was lost. It was simply hard to taste the actual pasta hidden in the ocean of other ingredients. Tomato, basil and olive oil is a GO for me.
You can omit the chicken here or serve it with shrimp instead. Or maybe you'd like to add your own magic ingredient, who knows?

Pasta with chicken and tomatoes:
Adapted from

2 chicken breasts, skinless, cut in cubes or as matchsticks (or hearts,etc)
2 tbsp dried italian herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme, sage)
sea salt and pepper
3 tbsp EVOO
8 oz spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
fresh rosemary leaves
fresh basil leaves, chopped

Pat dry chicken breasts. Season very generously with all the desired dry herbs, sea salt and pepper.
In a large skillet heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add chicken. Brown the meat until it's no longer pink. About 3-4 minutes on a medium heat. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside.

Add chopped garlic cloves and red pepper flakes to the same skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Saute garlic for less than a minute. If there is burning happening, add remaining olive oil. Stir in tomatoes. Fry for one more minute. Add white wine, stirring and scraping up all the browned bits in the pan. Once wine is reduced by half in volume, add fresh rosemary. Keep the heat very-very low at this point.

Cook pasta according to the package instructions (keeping it 1 minute away from al-dente).
Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water once pasta is ready.

Add chicken to the skillet with tomatoes, gently mix in the drained pasta. Toss well, making sure pasta is absorbing the sauce. Add a little bit of pasta water if it seems too dry.
Keep the skillet on very low for one more minute (or less if you'd like to keep your pasta al dente). Serve with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

I read this article recently. Some points of it, seriously, opened my eyes for the whole process of pasta cooking . It turned out I've made some small but important mistakes. Here is what I found:

  • " Have your sauce completed by the time you add the pasta to the boiling salted water. Keep the sauce on a low simmer until the pasta is ready. Your pasta shouldn’t wait for your sauce to cook. The sauce should be awaiting the pasta." -my mistake #1 
  • "As you drain the pasta, reserve some of the pasta water. Loosely drain the pasta, keeping the pasta moist. Never rinse the pasta."  
  • "Turning the heat on the pan will allow the hot sauce and hot pasta to cook for a couple brief minutes together to incorporate their flavors and create a beautiful texture. The starches from the pasta will slightly thicken the sauce. This is why it is suggested to cook your pasta just a tad more than al dente… it will continue cooking for a moment in the saucepan." -good to know, sometimes I served sauce like this one over the top of drained pasta, instead of adding pasta to the sauce and cooking it together for a few minutes. 
  • "Add a couple tablespoons at a time of the reserved hot pasta water to the pan to smooth out the sauce. Reserved pasta water contains starch that can be used to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it."
And last one but not the least one:
  •  "In total, you want to only cook your pasta and sauce together on the stove for about 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer your pasta to a warm serving bowl."

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! And enjoy your perfect bowl of pasta now that you know some tips (I'm not the one who didn't know it, right?) 

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