It’s that time of year when I leave Colorado to go back to NY for the spring. I don’t want to have to go food shopping because I am leaving and hate throwing away food unnecessarily. I had a container of homemade tomato sauce in my freezer, I had already bought the chicken cutlets so all I really needed was the fresh mozzarella . I even had fresh basil , of course fresh parsley would also be nice but what the heck Joel picks out all the green stuff anyway. I even had a 1/2 yellow onion sitting and waiting to be tossed! I walked in the house to a very hungry gentleman and I whipped this up in a 1/2 hour! I would like this better with fresh parmesan shavings but had to make do with grated parmesan because that’s what we had in the house.
*I had sauce in the house but feel free to use a jar of sauce–I won’t judge you –I promise. Raos actually makes a really good one and I use it when I am in a pinch. Just saying…..
This recipe will serve 4-6 . I actually cut it in 1/2 for the two of us and still had left-overs.
1 lb. penne or rigatoni or any macaroni type pasta you have in the house
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, plus a little more for drizzling on pasta
2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts cut into small bite sized pieces
Salt and Pepper–I use Kosher and Freshly ground Black Pepper always
1/2 onion , finely diced –I only used 1/2 because my sauce contained onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
Tomato Sauce / Marinara Sauce whichever you have on hand. 1 Jar should do it (app. 25 oz. size) I used sauce I had but I also cut recipe in 1/2
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes–you know we like the heat so adjust for your own taste buds
1/2 cup water
8 ounce container of fresh mozzarella balls, or buy 8 oz. of fresh mozzarella and cut into cubes (see photo)
Fresh Parmesan Shavings-or grated Parmesan whichever you have on hand is good and will work
Extra Parmesan for serving–I mean there is plenty of cheese here so no worries
Chopped Fresh Basil– I love the flavor and I love the color it adds to my pasta –if you have some fresh parsley (flat leaf) that would be nice as well –just mince up and sprinkle a little bit in
Cook pasta according to directions
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium size sauce pan. Add chicken in a single layer and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Allow chicken to cook for a few minutes undisturbed until it starts to turn golden in color. Then stir chicken around to brown all over. After a few minutes remove to a separate bowl with a slotted spatulaor spoon.
Into the same skillet over medium-high heat , add the onions and garlic and stir to cook. Cook till onion is completely broken down and transparent, it could take a few minutes. You’ll want onions to be golden brown. * hint- if the pan is too dry drizzle a little bit more olive oil.
Reduce the heat to low once onions are broken down and pour in your sauce, red pepper flakes, and the 1/2 cup of water. Stir until the onions and garlic are mixed in then add the chicken back into the pan. Stir until heated through on a low simmer, about 5-8 minutes.
Making sure the sauce is bubbly and hot , place mozzarella into the pan. Let it sit, don’t bother with it for a few minutes, just let it heat through. You’ll be able to tell that mozzarella has softened without completely melting.
Drain the pasta and either pour onto a platter or separately plate it up. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle on Parmesan shavings or grated parmesan–just a little.
Pour on the sauce, sprinkle with fresh basil and serve immediately! Obviously if someone still wants extra cheese that’s their business. I left it on the table but even Joel who is a giant cheese lover didn’t need any extra.
*Just a little note on mozzarella–it should be soft but still visible and that’s why the small mozzarella balls worked out so well. You’ll want chunks to still be firm without completely falling apart.
Enjoy and this is really easy and fast!