Baked Chicken & Bow-Tie Pasta

Friday, July 8, 2011

I like to file these kinds of recipes under What The Fuck Am I Going To Make For Dinner?! In other words, those days where you forgot to defrost this, are too lazy to drive to the market for that, and otherwise need to pull a meal for the fam out of your ass.

To help me along on these days, which being pregnant now are increasing exponentially with my waistline, I've stocked my pantry and fridge with Miracle Workers, aka ingredients that can transform otherwise shitty dishes into something that actually looks like you planned it on purpose. These include (but are not limited to) capers, sun-dried tomatoes in oil (always in oil!), parmesan cheese, shredded cheese (mozzarella, and a combo of cheddar and jack), marinara sauce and/or canned san marzano tomatoes, frozen or jarred artichoke hearts, broths in boxes, cornbread mix, and a variety of dried spices. And wine. Always wine.

For this dish, I had one lonely chicken breast that needed to go enough for 4 people. Some bow-tie pasta (I always have various pastas too), and some tomatoes. Voila! Baked chicken and pasta is born. This is an incredibly easy dish, literally came together in minutes, and was surprisingly tasty. Dried thyme added nice earthy flavor that brightened the tomatoes. I used a combination of chopped fresh tomatoes here and some leftover jarred marinara, but you can use just marinara or a can of san marzanos if you wish too. Just add cheese and the kids love it! Some steamed veggies on the side make a pretty healthy and complete meal.

The chicken was nice and moist, the tomatoes were sweet and delicious, the marinara created a nice texture for the whole dish and I probably was most impressed with how far the thyme went. Often when doing Italian food we think "basil, basil, basil" and ignore other herbs that go just as well, sometimes as in this case, even better. The thyme added such a wonderful earthiness to the entire dish that really made it in my opinion. Simple, comforting, extremely tasty and best of all, a super easy dinner that everyone loved. Dinner is served and I didn't have to order out again!

Baked Chicken & Bow-Tie Pasta
1 large chicken breast, cut into small cubes
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1/2 cup jarred tomato sauce or marinara sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups cooked bow-tie pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup for topping
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the chicken. Cook about 3 minutes per side, then add the onions in with the chicken. Cook another 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic, tomato, sauce, and thyme and mix to combine. Give a taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked pasta directly into the chicken sauce and mix to combine. Turn off heat. Transfer to a baking dish (a casserole dish works nicely) and mix in the cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with the parmesan cheese and some more shredded mozzarella.

Bake in oven about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve hot with steamed vegetables!

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