Sometimes, smack in the middle of summer, a craving for a hearty wintertime comfort food dish hits and your only recourse is to listen to your stomach. Hot and sticky days, however, aren’t always the best time to turn on the oven, heat up the house and consume big, heavy meals. But you can have the best of both worlds…
To me, pasta always equals comfort food, even if it’s mac and cheese out of a blue box (which yes, I do happen to enjoy, especially made with real butter and heavy cream, thank you very much). As you’ll recall, a bowl of pasta recently made me cry.
Even though this pasta dish is hearty and comforting, it’s doesn’t seem heavy. And by grilling the chicken, you get great flavor without turning the oven on. It’s the best of both worlds: comfort food with fresh and light summery flavors.
Summery Grilled Chicken Pasta with Homemade Tomato Sauce
Yield: 8 servings
Time: 45 minutes
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces dried fusilli pasta
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped shallots or yellow onions
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 zucchini, sliced
2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 ounces diced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for chicken
chopped fresh basil
shaved parmesan cheese
Heat the grill to about 400 degrees F. Lightly oil the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat for about 5-6 minutes per side, until cooked through. Chop or shred into bite-sized pieces. Reserve.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots, bell pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and canned tomatoes with juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When there are about 3 minutes left for the sauce, add the zucchini. Cook until just tender. Remove from heat and stir in cherry tomatoes.
In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken and tomato sauce. Stir in mozzarella cheese and pine nuts. Divide into bowls and top with chopped basil and shaved parmesan cheese.
This dish is full of fresh, simple flavors that combine to create a delicious one-bowl meal with a hint of spice and cherry tomatoes that pop in your mouth, perfect for any season, really.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Smart & Final. All opinions are my own. #SFSmarties #CBias #SocialFabric