Friday, May 6, 2011

Simple Delights:- Penne Pasta with Chicken and Veggies

After spending almost 10 years in the U.S, a curious palate like mine has managed to sample a whole variety of cuisines. Some I loved and adopted, whereas some, I said goodbye to after one sampling. And around the time after my son turned One, I started some experimenting on my own in the kitchen. Long hours of prep and toiling was not for me with a kid in tow. So I resorted to easy dishes but at the same time tried to twist them into my liking. And raising a kid had suddenly brought over a role-reversal to my junk food loving self. Suddenly I wanted to keep separate cutting boards, sterilize my knives and chuck my leftovers if it got more than 3 days old. I started including a lot more veggies to my food and cut down oil and other fats. The burning need to eat and cook healthier took hold of me! Now I suspect I wanted to be healthy and strong enough to be there for my kid.
And that is when I encountered pasta. The only pastas I ever tasted were a Pasta Tuna Salad and Mac-n-Cheese but I knew from these encounters that pasta could really take any Avatars and still come out delicious. And then the experiments started and most of the outcomes were positive.
Pasta is a very versatile ingredient and anyone can make it. It holds a comforting element which never fails to make me feel at-home.
The following post is a Chicken Pasta Recipe, a bit on the blander side but still awesomely flexible. This was the first Pasta dish I ever attempted. So needless to say, its a little un-evolved and too simple. On the bright side, you cant go wrong!

Penne Pasta- 1 lb box (Remember this can feed a family of 4 for 2 or 3 meals)
2 cooked Chicken Boneless Breasts - cut into bite-sized strips
Italian Seasoning or Finely Chopped Basil and Parsley- 1 tbsp (if you are using dry, then just a teaspoon will do)
1 Large Sweet Onion- sliced thin
Garlic- 4 cloves
Red and Green Pepper (Capsicum) -1 each cut into thin strips
Olive Oil- 2 tbsp
4 Cherry tomatoes -quartered
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese- as needed


Method:- Prepare the Pasta as directed in the box. After draining, sprinkle 1 tbsp olive oil and toss well. Keep aside.

In a pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Crush and mince the garlic and saute it until it turns soft. Add the onion, and peppers and cook it until everything is tender. Make sure that the mix is seasoned with salt and pepper. Now add the tomatoes, cooked chicken and herbs/ Italian seasoning and mix well. Cover with a lid,and cook on low heat for a minute or two until everything is heated through, well.

Remove the chicken and veggie mix from the stove and empty directly into the pasta. Mix well and garnish with thinly strips of basil leaves and Parmesan.

Variation:To kick things up a notch, sprinkle 1/4 tsp of crushed red chilli flakes and squeeze a quarter of lemon on the side.

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