Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baked Pasta and Chicken: One-dish deliciousness

Hello again, Teevoz here .... we haven't forgotten you! I tend to do more cooking in the winter, don't you? Well, we had our first snowfall in New York this weekend, so I thought it was time to share some easy and delicious recipes for the winter with you, our very patient readers.

This one, adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, is a seriously easy and incredibly delicious Italian baked pasta and chicken dish that will warm you up on a cold night. Make a salad while it's baking and you'll have dinner on the table in an hour.

Baked Pasta and Chicken

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

1 cup dry mini fusilli or any small pasta

2 raw boneless chicken cutlets (about 1 pound)
olive oil - try garlic-infused for extra flavor

1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
approx 1/2 to 3/4 cup good tomato sauce

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
salt and pepper - lemon pepper adds a nice flavor

approx 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
approx 1/2 cup grated parmesan
approx 1 to 2 tablespoons butter

1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, until al dente - about 5 minutes. Drain and put in large mixing bowl with a little butter or olive oil so it doesn't stick together.

2. Cut chicken into cubes and saute in olive oil, about 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add onion and garlic to chicken, continue to saute until onion is soft and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Don't let the garlic get too brown or it will be bitter.

4. Add chicken mixture to the pasta and mix together with the tomatoes and their juice, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and basil or parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Add extra tomato sauce and/or some diced fresh tomatoes if needed - the mixture should be moist.

5. Transfer the pasta mixture to a buttered 8x8x2 baking dish. Cover the top with the bread crumb-parmesan mixture and generously dot the top with butter.

Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the top forms a golden brown crust.

Serve with salad and a nice red wine - and enjoy!

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