Thursday dinner: Pasta with stuff

“Pasta or rice?” My question seemed simple enough, but when asked to an audience of The Wife and The Sister no question is easy.

“What are we having?”

“Chicken and…stuff.” I didn’t exactly know what was going in, but had a rough idea that the tomatoes and olives in my refrigerator were candidates.

“What does stuff mean?” After divulging the potential ingredients, whole wheat penne won out over basamati rice. I think this recipe would work either way — rice or pasta, questions or none.

I picked up the tomatoes and olives on Sunday in hopes of making Jason Hammel‘s white bean and tuna pasta from the latest issue of Bon Appetit. By midday, the thought of tuna was not sitting well with me. I got the sister to pick up some chicken while she was out and went to work when I got home.

The improvisation worked out well, incorporating complementary flavors and fresh produce. With a little more planning, I would have picked up some feta to toss in at the end. The Pecorino Romano in the back of the fridge sufficed.

Pasta with chicken and tomatoes
By Jared Paventi

  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and scalloped, approx. 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt the water liberally and cook the pasta to the directions on the package.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the chicken and garlic, and brown, 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Using the accumulated liquid and garlic as a cooking base, add the tomatoes and olives. Reduce heat to medium and saute 6-7 minutes. Add the chicken and toss. Grate the lemon zest over the pan and use a salad fork to assist in squeezing juice from the fruit. Stir in the wine and cook 2-3 more minutes to blend flavors.

Drain the pasta and toss with the chicken and tomatoes. Serve hot.

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