Category Archives: pasta

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Balls

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Balls

this is one of my absolute favorite recipes–one of my top ten.  It is a soup , which is also a full meal. It is hearty and pretty healthy.  It is one of my staples from September through April. It freezes well and you can just take it out of the freezer the night before, and you’ll have a wonderful meal the next evening. When you defrost it you will probably want to add broth/water to it. add a little at a time till you get the consisitency you like. Enjoy:)

Ingredients: chicken balls

1 lb. ground chicken

1/2 lb chicken sausage, casings removed

3 slices whole wheat bread for bread crumbs ( I put into food proccesor with steel blade for crumbs) i remove crusts . should be app. 1 cup of bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced garlic ( 2 – 3 cloves)

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano ( fresh is best) but whatever you have will do

1/4 cup grated Parmesan ( again nothing beats fresh) but whatever you have will do here as well

3 tablespoons milk

1 extra large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small -medium yellow onion minced

1 cup diced carrots ( 3 )

1 cup diced celery (2 stalks)

10 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine( use whatever you have open)

1 cup small pasta tubetini, ditalini, stars, etc.

5 ounces fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

*fresh dill ( I love the flavor) add at your own discretion about 1/4 cup minced fresh dill.

Directions:

preheat the oven to 350 degrees  put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

for the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage,bread crumbs, garlic, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, salt and pepper  all in a bowl and mix well with a fork.  I use a teaspoon, and make 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and drop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. you should have about 30 to 40 small balls. bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. set them aside. (I made about 30 balls, they were a little larger this time out)

For the Soup:

 heat the olive oil over medium – low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot ( Le Creuset type pot) Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, about 10 minutes, don’t brown. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil, at this point I let soup cook a while to soften the vegetables, app. 1 hour. ( a low simmer) if you’re in a hurry you can probably do the whole soup in 1/2 hour , veggies will be soft enough to eat. if some of the liquid evaporates you can always add a little more broth.

chicken balls out of the ovenItalian Wedding Soup cooking

 Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook another 6 – 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the meatballs and simmer for another minute or so. taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for another minute or so, the spinach will just wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Orzo with Lemon Shrimp and Spinach

photoDSCN0367DSCN0363DSCN0372DSCN0384DSCN0390By now you all know how very much we love shrimp. It comes in handy to have an ex-shrimp monger on hand to clean and devein my shrimp. I love cooking it but not so much cleaning and deveining it. Joel not only obtains the best shrimp around but he really does do a great job of cleaning and deveining. ( I think it’s in his DNA) In any event we make a pretty good team when it comes to shrimp dishes.
So now on to this delicious dish. I didn’t feel like grilling and this dish was calling out to me. I saw Giada de Laurentiis make a shrimp scampi on her show and she made it with arugula , it looked so awesome and light I figured I’d do it my way and make it with spinach even though I knew Joel wouldn’t eat the spinach. Our friend Drew was over and he loves spinach so we ate Joel’s spinach, once again it’s his loss. This dish was pretty easy to pull together once shrimp was prepped. Not a whole lot of ingredients, and whole thing took about 1/2 hour.  This dish was very light in flavor and a perfect summer night meal, doesn’t have to be served super hot , can be room temperature. Thanks again to Giada for the wonderfully inspiring recipe.

*once the shrimp is prepared this dish is a snap. Have your fish store clean and de-vein your shrimp for you.

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup olive oil

zest of 2 large lemons ( try to use organic if you’re zesting and eating the peel) and scrub those lemons well

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice ( from the 2 large lemons you just zested)

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth and set aside.

Ingredients:

1 lb. orzo

1 lb. shrimp , I used large under 10’s, peeled and deveined  ( you can have fish monger do this )

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 large shallot , chopped

app. 1 more teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup dry white wine ,  ( I used what I had on hand)

6 ounces of spinach , I used baby spinach, use whatever greens you like. Giada used arugula .

Directions:

Cook orzo according to directions. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place shrimp in a bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper . Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped shallots and cook until soft for a few minutes. Add the shrimp, cook shrimp until they turn pink and are just cooked through depending on the size of your shrimp. When shrimp is cooked through remove the shrimp from the skillet. Increase the heat to high and add the 1/2 cup of wine, allow to boil up and scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, cook for another minute or so until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Then add orzo to the pan along with the vinaigrette and the spinach and let it wilt down.  I added most of the reserved pasta water , you’ll use as much or as little as you need, I used whole cup of reserved pasta water. Add the shrimp back in and toss well until all the ingredients are well coated. Serve up and enjoy.

Fresh Basil Pesto

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Chicken and Pesto on the Grill

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Pasta Pesto

The original recipe for this delicious pesto appeared back in May 2011 on Cooking with Candi.  Yummy Pesto was the title. This is the same recipe from my BFF Suki. I have tried many pesto sauces and this remains my absolute go to favorite. It is super easy and while the basil is abundant you should make it and freeze it. When you freeze the pesto in a container, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top . I have it frozen for up to 3 months. I use it on chicken, pasta, and it’s wonderful as a spread. This recipe is good for 2 lbs. of pasta usually. So I use 1/2 and freeze the rest if it’s just the 2 of us.

Pesto Chicken on the Grill with Grilled Peppers and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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Fresh Basil

If you are going to use on chicken , just brush on the chicken sprinkle a tiny bit of  kosher salt on it and  let it marinate for a few hours at least and it can be marinated  overnight in the refrigerator. Take it out of fridge and let it sit at room temp. before putting on the grill. That’s it!

*You’ll need a food processor

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh basil (washed)

1/2 cup romano cheese (grated)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese ( grated)

1/2 cup pignolli nuts or walnuts

1 cup extra virgin olive oil–use a good one

1 – 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (it’s good if the butter is softened before adding) you can soften in microwave

4 cloves garlic – peeled and whole

freshly ground black pepper–to taste

*kosher salt to taste if you feel you need it after finished making pesto

Directions:

I put all ingredients except for olive oil in the food processor. Give it a few grinds using the blade attachment. Then I slowly add in the olive oil through the top of processor while it’s on. Beautiful green pesto! so easy. Taste for salt and pepper

Cook pasta and drain and add pesto. Done!

Bucatini al’Amatriciana

Amatrice is a small town in Italy outside of Rome and this dish is named for it. This dish is intended to be made with guanciale , which is a pig jowl and it tastes like a porkier version of bacon or pancetta. I use pancetta, which now comes pre-diced in packages making for a very easy time. I also keep packages of the diced pancetta in my freezer, they defrost very quickly which makes them a perfect dinner ingredient.  I also use bucatini pasta which is thick and ropey with a hole like a straw. I wouldn’t wear white while eating this it’s a messy one. Super easy and delicious. I made it tonite with my marinated flank steak. I also used 2 containers of grape tomatoes, but you can easily substitute with 1 large  can of San Marzano tomatoes ( crushed )The cherry/grape tomatoes give it a lighter sauce, and I prefer it especially in the summer months.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 – 6 oz. diced pancetta ( or 1/4 lb. glacial)

1/2 yellow onion chopped finely

2 garlic cloves , minced

2 containers of tomatoes halved ( I used grape tomatoes , I love them )

*1 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( we like spicy) use your own discretion , can always add at the table

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese, or any kind of Parmesan Cheese

1 lb. bucatini ( you can obviously use 1/2 pound and save any leftover sauce to freeze for another time) any thick spaghetti will do but I love this one in this recipe. Perciatelli is another good choice.

Directions:

In a large heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly. I like my pancetta crispy, but just get it golden brown, about 5 – 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove pancetta into a separate bowl. Add onions to olive oil till translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes , I do this off the heat. I then add all the tomatoes, some kosher salt ( to taste) and some black pepper and add back in the pancetta. I also add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the tomatoes till they start to break down and form a sauce. Taste for salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for at least 45 minutes , up to an hour for perfect sauce.

Cook Pasta according to package directions, tender but still firm to the bite. Before draining pasta take out about 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl, I add a little of the pasta water and then I add the sauce. Toss gently and serve. I served with Parmesan Cheese .

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce

FullSizeRenderThis is one of my old tried and true recipes and also one of our family’s all time favorites.   I will be making this delicious side dish for our Father’s Day Barbecue.  Perfect for a large get together and totally tasty. There are a lot of ingredients but it is very easy to put together and it’s always a hit! I made the sauce a day ahead which I highly recommend doing, it gives flavors a chance to really come together.  I had all the ingredients in the house and day of I will cook the noodles and mix together. If making sauce ahead of time , take it out of refrigerator and let the sauce sit at room temperature before mixing with noodles. I used 1 teaspoon of cayenne, but because I wasn’t sure of everyone’s taste buds for hot and spicy I left out the chili oil. If you want it spicier you can always add some hot chili oil, or more cayenne pepper.  You can actually make the sauce a few days ahead of time. Enjoy this oldie but goodie. I have played around with the recipe a lot, and have found these ingredients work the best for me. I also like to put a little fresh cilantro on the side for those who love it ( like me) and don’t leave out the chopped peanuts they give it that extra yummy crunch. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 

1 lb. linguine or spaghetti ( or you can use Chinese egg noodles)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

7 tablespoons Peanut Butter ( creamy ) by the way I always use the low-fat one, it’s perfectly fine

2/3 cup warm water

6 tablespoons soy sauce ( use low sodium)

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more to specific taste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic

3 to 4 scallions , finely chopped

*1 sliced cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned (optional) but tasty and crunchy

*fresh cilantro chopped (optional)

*sprinkle of chopped peanuts ( optional) but extra added crunch if you have them on hand

*dash of hot chili oil ( to taste) I usually just throw in a dash of this.

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, using a fork or a small wire whisk, beat the peanut butter together with the water until it is smooth. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, sugar, and salt. Beat till smooth. If you’re adding hot chili oil this is when you would add that.

Add the chopped garlic, and stir well. Because I was using it the next day, I left out scallions till I cooked pasta .

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water, until noodles are cooled down sufficiently. Place noodles in a large bowl, drizzle with the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and toss well. Refrigerate noodles until you are ready to serve. About an hour or so before I am ready to serve, I pour sauce over noodles and mix well. Make sure sauce has been left out at room temperature for a while till it’s not too cold.  Add the scallions and cucumbers and mix well. Right before serving you can sprinkle the cilantro and chopped peanuts if you like. I pour about 2/3 of the sauce over noodles and mix well, adding more sauce as I feel necessary. I definitely didn’t use all of the sauce that I made, add slowly and taste as you go along.  Right before serving I usually add some more sauce, but leave it out at room temperature. This is a deadly go to leftover the next day.

Springtime in a Bowl – Shrimp, Asparagus and Tomato Pasta

It is really Springtime now and it just makes you want to lighten up the menu a bit and my mind immediately goes to asparagus!  This recipe is a variation on my Summertime Tomato Pasta. I wanted to use some of those beautiful asparagus out there. Even though I knew Joel would pick them out , I still made this dish. The asparagus are large enough for him to easily pick out and put on my plate. This dish is light and delicious and pretty quick to prepare. It is like springtime in a bowl!  There are so very many things to do with asparagus but this just appealed to me tonite and if you leave the shrimp out you have a lovely vegetarian pasta dish. I used the shrimp.  I also used linguine in this , it just seems to hold on to the flavors nicely. Happy Spring and Enjoy. This recipe was inspired by Giada de Laurentis .

Ingredients:

1 lb. box linguine ( I used Fini Linguine , it was lighter than regular linguine and was just perfect)

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 containers of little grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or any small tomato ( app. 20 oz. of tomatoes)  I cut tomatoes in 1/2.

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

* crushed red pepper ( we like the heat) use your own discretion depending on how you like it, totally optional

3 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1/2 cup dry white wine ( I use whatever I have open)

1 lb. Asparagus , trimmed, stalks cut on a diagonal into app. 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

fresh basil chopped ( app. 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to box directions.( Fini Linguine cooks in 6 minutes perfectly)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tomatoes, app.  1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and app. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft , it takes about 5 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic. Cook for another few minutes ( don’t burn the garlic)keep on low heat and stir around. Add the wine and the asparagus. Bring to a low boil and simmer for at least 5 minutes . Taste for Salt and Pepper, if it needs more this is when I would add it, and I did. I added a bit more salt here, pepper was fine. You need to use your own discretion about the salt .

Sprinkle shrimp in a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and continue to simmer until the shrimp is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Shrimp needs to be firm to the touch, and opaque if cut into. Stir in the chopped basil and the oregano.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss well to combine.  You can always add more crushed red pepper when finished.

This was really delicious and light. Joel of course picked out every piece of asparagus, and put them in my bowl. That was fine with me because I love asparagus.

*this dish will easily serve 4, if you like you can always add another 1/2 lb. of shrimp for 4 people.

Pasta with Chicken, Spinach and Tomatoes

I am clearly obsessed with tomatoes these days. This recipe is easy to make, pretty healthy and super tasty. I just love those little grape tomatoes and have been using them a lot lately in everything I cook. Of course, the spinach is an issue because of Joel, but he’ll just have to pick it out. He really doesn’t know what he is missing. Most of the ingredients you’ll have on hand. If you’re really trying to keep it lighter, omit the butter and increase the olive oil by one tablespoon. Just cook the chicken in the olive oil without the butter. It will be fine. Cut the chicken into small or large chunks (whatever you would prefer)just be sure they are all pretty much the same size to make cooking time is the same , put in a single layer and allow the chicken to brown up nicely (when you first put it into the skillet try not to touch it ), about 3  minutes on each side depending on the size of the chicken chunks. Enjoy this delicious meal–it’s perfect for a nice lunch, dinner, or brunch dish. Prep time is quick , about 1/2 hour. This is really a beautiful light meal .

*I cut this recipe in 1/2 this evening for just the 2 of us. This dish should feed 5 – 6  people nicely as is.

Ingredients:

1 pound small pasta ( penne, rigatoni, I used Fusilli Bucati ) I like a small macaroni as opposed to spaghetti in this recipe.

4 whole boneless , skinless Chicken Breasts ( adjust to how many people you’re serving) app. 2 lbs.

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons Butter ( unsalted)

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

4 Cloves Garlic , minced

3/4 cup Dry White Wine ( I use whatever is open) ( if no white wine or you don’t like cooking with wine just double up on chicken broth)

3/4 cups Chicken Broth ( you may need a bit more so have a  little extra on hand)

1 bag Baby Spinach

2 boxes of grape tomatoes (1 pint per box) sliced lengthwise , any larger ones cut in fours

Grated Parmesan Cheese for garnish

*crushed red pepper which we love but totally not necessary

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions . Drain and set aside. I try to keep a little of the pasta water in the event I may need it at the end of cooking, just take a measuring cup and scoop out a cup of water and set aside, if you don’t use it you haven’t lost anything. Sometimes towards the end I add it to finished pasta to  add a little liquid to the pasta, especially if you cook in advance. I didn’t need it tonite because we ate it as soon as it was cooked, and it was just right .

Cut chicken breasts into chunks and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper ( (I prefer small chunks) Be fairly generous with Salt and Pepper.

Heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken in a single layer and don’t touch for a few minutes and let it brown up, turn over once it starts to brown and form a coating. When chicken is done, remove chicken from skillet. I prefer smaller chunks, do whatever you like, just keep them uniform for even cooking.

Turn heat down to low, add garlic and give it a quick stir, be careful not to burn garlic. Pour in wine and broth, stirring to deglaze the pan, raise the heat and allow the liquid to come to a boil. Allow the liquid to boil for a bit, I let it boil for about 5 minutes, reduce the cooking liquid by at least half. I then reduce to a simmer and add the tomatoes, I let them cook for about 5 minutes till they start to release their liquid a bit, and just start to soften.  I also add Salt and Pepper again here, then I add chicken to pan . stir it around, add the bag of spinach  it will start to wilt as you toss everything , then add the drained pasta, mix well and serve. So light and delicious.

Sprinkle Grated Parmesan or Parmesan shavings are good as well.

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage, Peas, and Mushrooms

Pan with Turkey Sausage, Crimini Mushrooms, and Peas

Cremini Mushrooms roughly chopped

This is a sauceless pasta and one of my truly favorite go to meals. Ingredients are readily available even if you have to substitute a different sausage. Very light, very tasty and very easy to make. There aren’t a lot of ingredients, and it doesn’t take a long time to make. My husband, Joel, hates green things and loves this dish. And he even eats all the peas on his plate, which makes me very happy. A shout out to Giada de Laurentis for the inspiration here.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 lb turkey sausages, casings removed (just squeeze all the meat out; I like Italian-style turkey sausage)

1 box of cremini mushrooms (Baby Bella), approx. 10 oz. (roughly chopped)

About 3/4 bag frozen peas (take them out of freezer about an hour before, just slightly thawed is perfect)

1 lb Farfalle pasta (bow ties)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Freshly grated parmesan, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large, sauté pan, heat up two tablespoons olive oil (medium to high flame). Add the broken up turkey sausage and make sure to break up the large clumps. Cook for about 10 minutes (I like the sausage browned). When finished cooking, remove sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Heat a little more olive oil (approx. 2 TBSP). Add the chopped up cremini mushrooms and kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (approx. a little less than a teaspoon of each, depending on your taste. Keep in mind that sausage is naturally salty.) Sauté until all the liquid is gone—about another 10 minutes. Add the frozen peas and cook for a few minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and cook for another few minutes (I turn off the heat at this point and just let the flavors blend.)

In the meantime, cook pasta (according to package) al dente. Drain the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water from pasta (this is the trick with “sauceless pasta”) and add pasta to the pan with all other ingredients. Combine well, adding some of that pasta water at a time; as needed. Drizzle in the 1/2 cup of olive oil, mixing as you go. Taste for salt and pepper. I also add red pepper flakes, but I love spicy.

Serve with freshly grated parm cheese and you’re good to go.

*Serves 4 as a main dish and 8 as a side.

Creamy Shrimp Pasta

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Plated up and ready to eat

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Shrimp cooking in the sauce

IMG_6733 IMG_6735 IMG_6741 IMG_6742 This recipe got sort of just thrown together last-minute because I had purchased the shrimp earlier in the day and was in the mood for pasta. There really is no time we are not in the mood for pasta and nothing quite satisfies like the real deal. I had everything else in the fridge but these are super easy ingredients and I highly recommend this recipe to all of you. It’s creamy and delicious without being too heavy. In the mood for pasta and shrimp? this one is sure to satisfy.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp, I used under 15 (15 to a pound) for the two of us. This could probably serve 3 to 4 as a side dish, and 2 – 3 comfortably as a main dish. Leave the tails on when you peel and de-vein.  I only used 1/2 box of pasta but you can increase the pasta for more people.

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1 15 oz. can of Tomatoes, I used whole but diced would be fine. Whole was what I had in the house and I just broke with the back of a wooden spoon while it was cooking. Either one would work just fine.

3/4 cup Heavy Cream

1/2 cup white wine ( I used Pinot Grigio) just nothing too sweet

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

*1/2 tsp. kosher salt–this is what I used but you can taste for salt and black pepper

*1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

*sprinkle of crushed red pepper–totally optional but if you like a bit of heat this works perfectly here. Use as much or as little as you like and can be added at table if you’re not sure everyone will like it.

1/2 lb. pasta–you can use capellini or fettucine or anything in between. I used fettucine because I was using what I had on hand in the pantry.

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat ( at least a 12″ heavy skillet) Heat oil until it starts to shimmer but not smokes. Cook shrimp along with garlic, oregano , app. 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and app. 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, turning the shrimp over after 2-3 minutes (as soon as shrimp curls). Stir in wine and tomatoes, scraping up any bits which may be at the bottom of the pan. Add heavy cream and briskly bring to a simmer until sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. I let the sauce sit off the heat while I prepared my pasta, you don’t want rubbery overcooked shrimp.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to box directions for al dente in a well-salted pot. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water . ( you may need water if sauce gets too thick)  Drain pasta.

I then turned on the heat and brought sauce to a low boil and added in the pasta. If sauce is too thick you can thin it out with a little pasta water. I only used a bit of the pasta water. It was divine.

Chicken Parmesan Pasta

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.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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!