Recipe: Chicken Penne Pasta

From my early childhood until sometime in middle school or the early years of high school, I would spend a week (or sometimes two) of my summer with my cousins, Kate and Jess, at their childhood home in Maryland. Those visits were filled with games of dress-up, Parcheesi with Kate’s hand-crafted Sailor Moon playing pieces, Nintendo parties early in the morning, and trips to D.C. and the mall. We always got dinner at this local Mexican place and a great Italian restaurant, and I definitely remember getting take out from a fast food chicken-and-biscuit place, but we enjoyed meals at the house as well. As we got older, Kate was often given the duty of making dinner at home, so I’d get to try her cooking while I visited. The recipe I’m sharing in this post is one that Kate made during one of my visits when I was in middle school. I loved this dish (and the fact that she let me help her make it) and I’m particularly attached to it because it’s the first dish I made by myself for my family, way back in 8th or 9th grade. It’s incredibly easy to make (though, as a teen, I definitely remember overcooking the chicken) and it’s really tasty.

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  •  2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a large pot)
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (fresh or from a jar; not dried)
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 4 tbsp. dry/cooking red wine
  • 2 cups penne or ziti pasta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried basil and dried Italian Seasoning, to taste

Directions
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring as needed, until the vegetable pieces have softened (about 5 minutes). Season the chicken with salt and pepper (I also sprinkle on a little garlic powder for added flavoe), and add the pieces to the pot, cooking until no longer pink inside but still tender (about 5-7 minutes). Reduce to medium heat and add the crushed tomatoes, dry red wine, and the dried basil and Italian Seasoning (at least 1 tbsp. of each) to the pot and stir to blend. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes.
Drain the pasta, then add it to the chicken mixture in the large, deep pot. Remove from heat. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

This dish is simple, filling, and healthy. The red wine blended into the crushed tomatoes adds a deeper flavor to this dish and the addition of dried basil and Italian seasoning give it a little kick. It’s a perfect little Italian dish for a quick weeknight dinner.

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One thought on “Recipe: Chicken Penne Pasta

  1. I remember trying to write this recipe out for you for the first time, and failing quite spectacularly. Brings back memories!Now I use a lot more wine in this (a LOT more), and rarely anything dry. I cook it differently enough too that the tomatoes aren't cooked very long, so it becomes acidic and light. Funny how old favorites evolve the most!

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