Anyone close to me knows that “chicken and pasta” has been my go-to comfort meal for literally decades. Cook up some short pasta, add some seasonings, bread crumbs, parm cheese, and cut up chicken….can’t be beat.
My grown up mouth decided one day that this could only be made better by adding veggies. Somewhere along the past three or four years, I’ve started thinking more along the lines of “I have a vegetable, what can I add to it!” instead of “I have a fat plate of meat and potatoes, what vegetable can I add a little pile of to the side so that I have a balanced meal” 🙂 So, I enhanced and modified the original recipe.
- 1 small onion, sliced thinly
- pepper, sliced thinly (1 jalapeno or half a bell pepper)
- one more veggie of your choice, chopped into bite-sized pieces (my two favorites are very thin asparagus or spinach; peas and broccoli work well also)
- small amount of cooked chicken (I love the chicken fingers from my local farmer’s market, you can buy a pound or two at a time, chop them up into small pieces, and freeze one finger in each packet)
- 1/4 pound long pasta (fettuccine is my favorite for this, but any long pasta will do!)
- shredded Parmesan cheese
- seasonings as desired
- Add a small amount of oil to a skillet (don’t go crazy, but don’t skimp…it has to be enough to cook the veggies without drying up..maybe two tablespoons). Heat on medium.
- Once hot, add onion and pepper. Cook for about four to five minutes, until veggies start to soften and brown a bit.
- Meanwhile, set a pan of water to boil for the pasta. Add a bit of oil to the water. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Add third veggie to the skillet at an appropriate time to finish up when the pasta does. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, whatever you like). My timeline usually goes something like this:
- For asparagus: onion and pepper go on at the same time as the pot goes on to boil for the pasta. By the time the water boils, add the asparagus to the onion and pepper. Cook for about ten minutes, and everything (including the pasta) will be done at the same time.
- For spinach: onion and pepper go on at the same time as the pot goes on to boil for the pasta. Add the pasta as soon as the water boils; then add the spinach when about five minutes are left for the pasta.
- You get the idea. Basically the onion and pepper are going to cook for about fifteen minutes (which is how long it takes to boil the pasta water and cook it); no veggies should take more than the ten minutes that the pasta needs to cook once the water boils.
- When about two minutes are left for the pasta, add the pre-cooked chicken to the veggies.
- Drain the pasta and put on a plate.
- Pour the veggie mixture over the pasta.
- Add some shredded Parmesan cheese to the top of the pile.
- This is not an attractive meal to eat. It’s not something you want to eat on a first date with a boyfriend or girlfriend. You’re going to be attempting to wind spaghetti around veggies and chicken (getting some of each in every bite!) and it will fall apart and be a mess as you try to shovel it in. But boy is it tasty!
- If you do not have precooked chicken, you can always dice some raw chicken and cook it in the oil in the veggie skillet before adding the veggies.
- There is obviously a lot of room for creativity – it is a completely made up recipe that comes out a little different each time I make it. Go crazy and switch it up!
- The proportions above will feed one hungry person.