This dish just might be my favorite new pasta! It uses all fresh ingredients, and no canned, pre-made sauce, and the flavors just shine. With simple ingredients and easy preparation, it's healthy and delicious and will remind you of restaurant pasta at home. I made a few adaptations to this recipe from Giada, and served it with garlic sauteed zucchini and fresh french bread.
1 cup of any small pasta (I used Barilla Plus Farfalle)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (approximately 1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (I used Hunts Natural Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (see note below)
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan
1/2 tablespoon butter, chopped into pea sized pieces
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Drain pasta.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
Put the chicken mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Mix in the cooked & drained pasta and cover well. Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish (2 inches deep) with olive oil or nonstick spray, then place the mixture in the dish. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
(Note: About 6 months ago, I made the switch to organic, hormone and steroid free meat & dairy, as well as produce on the Dirty Dozen list. You can find a list of all fruits and vegetables and their pesticide score here. I have also been trying to remove as many prepared foods filled with chemicals and preservatives as possible from our daily diet. If I cannot pronounce it, we try not to eat it. Hydrogenated oils are high on the "banned" list. I've been blown away by seemingly simple foods that have a long list of chemicals, hydrogenated oils, and preservatives on the label. One example is breadcrumbs, which I like to use in a few of our recipes. I have started making our own homemade breadcrumbs by allowing leftover homemade bread to dry out a little until it is firm, cubing it, then chopping it in our food processor. I store a container of breadcrumbs in our freezer to keep them fresh and at the ready for use in recipes. Italian herbed bread makes great Italian breadcrumbs, and plain breads like french or sourdough make wonderful plain breadcrumbs. Since I made the bread in our breadmaker, I know exactly what went into it. Flour, butter, yeast, herbs, water and a little sugar sounds a lot better to me than high fructose corn syrup, thiamin mononitrate and calcium stearoyl lactylate among other things!)