I’m half Italian. That’s how I have always justified my love for bread and pasta. But let's consider the traditional Italian meal. Pasta was never the main event. It is the first in a succession of courses (fish or meat, fruit and cheese, side dishes, dessert, etc.) and preceded by antipasti* and an aperitif.
This made me reconsider sitting down to a heaping portion of pasta (even though the pasta course served the purpose of filling eaters up a bit before more costly meats came to the table). Since I’m not in the position to serve multi-course meals, I usually now incorporate a protein (usually chicken) into my pasta dishes. It’s still a carbohydrate-heavy meal, but at least you’re forfeiting some carb calories in favor of proteins.
Chicken Penne Pomodoro
Print recipe only here
YOU WILL NEED:
* Food mill (a Cuisinart can substitute in a pinch, but I’m really not an advocate)
* Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about ½ to 1 breast per person, depending on appetite)
* One can (28 oz) of whole peeled tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
* 1 # penne pasta (I like Barilla)
* Fresh basil - 4-5 leaves
* Garlic - 2-3 cloves, sliced
* White wine
1. Marinate a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts in olive oil, garlic, lemon or whatever else you like in there.
1. Preheat grill.
2. Boil water for pasta, adding a generous amount of kosher salt to the water.
3. Run tomatoes through food mill, set on a medium size extractor. Mine comes with three discs. I use the middle one for all tomatoes
4. Trim basil. Here’s how: stack about 4-5 leaves on top of each other. Roll the whole thing up. Take your thinnest, sharpest blade and make thin cuts, crosswise. This is essentially a chiffonade, but not quite as thin.
5. Grill chicken breasts. When cooked through, transfer to a cutting board and let sit for about 10-15 minutes.
For the sauce:
In a saucepan, heat 2 T olive oil over medium heat. After a minute add:
Sauté the garlic until fragrant. Then add the pureed tomatoes.
Cook for about 5 minutes until the color darkens. Then add:
Cook, uncovered for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta (12-16 oz).
When the pasta has about 5 minutes left of cooking time, slice the chicken and add to saucepan. Then add the basil to saucepan. Taste sauce for seasoning, adding kosher salt and pepper as needed.
Drain pasta and pour into a serving bowl. Pour sauce on top and stir to combine.
*I’m throwing this out to those of you who speak Italian. I’ve heard both antipasti and antipasto. Is this a plural/singular difference like cannoli/cannolo (“Only one CANNOLO!?!? or panini/panino? Can anyone provide an explanation?