Buying a 3 pound family sized package of chicken breast fillets is a good nudge to try some new chicken recipes! My goal was to come up with a quick pasta dish that provided us with our veggies as well as our protein from the chicken. Inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, this tasty pasta dish I came up with combines red bell peppers and garlic with the chicken, with a healthy bunch of baby spinach added at the end. Give it a try next time you have some chicken on hand calling for something new!
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus oil spray
2 chicken breast fillets, about 1 lb, sliced crosswise about 3/4 inch thick
1/2 tsp dried basil, 1 tbsp fresh basil if you have it
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup feta
3 cups baby spinach
handful chopped olives (optional)
dash of fresh squeezed lemon juice (optional)
12 ozs penne
salt to taste
Start a pot of water boiling to cook the pasta, then heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add the red bell pepper and saute for 7 to 10 minutes medium heat, until the pepper has softened and and the pepper smell starts wafting through the kitchen. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Push the peppers and garlic to the edge of the pan to create a clear area in the center. Spray that middle area with oil to coat, raise heat to medium high, and add the chicken pieces to the center of the pan. Sprinkly the chicken with a bit of salt. Cook chicken about 4 mins on one side so that it starts turning white on the cooked side. Turn the chicken over to cook for another 3 minutes or so.
|start the chicken cooking in center of pan, then combine with peppers and simmer.|
Meanwhile, cook the penne according to package instructions, adding the pasta to the boiling water around the time the chicken starts its 10 minutes of simmering. Drain when done to your liking, and toss with a tbsp of olive oil.
When then chicken is cooked and spinach has wilted a bit, add the chicken mixture to the pasta and toss to combine. Stir in the feta cheese, followed by the olives and lemon, if you are using them. I recommend at least one of those two optional items to enhance the Mediterranean flavor. You can serve with some additional feta or parm cheese at the table if you like.
Wine Pairing: A lean Chardonnay with moderate oak works well with this dish. We had a Torito Bravo chard from Spain with it that fits the description and worked well. Keeping with the Mediterranean theme, any number of medium to full bodied Italian whites could work well with this dish. Choose your favorite or try something new!