November 23, 2010

Simple family suppers....

Family meals don't have to be elaborate. I've blogged before about how the actual act of sitting at the table is more important than the food itself.  But, of course we like what we eat to be tasty and visually appealing.  One of my favorite food network stars is Giada De Laurentiis.  She makes everything she cooks look easy (although we really know it's not).  I love Italian food, absolutely love it! So when I run across one of her recipes set on *easy* my brain starts whirring and the pots come out.  I think I went looking for one of her creations today because the December issue of Food Network Magazine (FNM) came in the mail, and of course she's featured. This simple family supper was paired with an old vine zin from Bogle (one of my favorites).  I meant to steam some broccoli, but I got caught up in last Sunday's episode of the Amazing Race and forgot.  Oh well, there are tomatoes in the recipe so that counts as the veggie :-)

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

  • 1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 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 the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking 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.

Helpful Hints
Buttering the bottom of the pan is not necessary.  Just use Pam or other spray oil.
I used small elbow macaroni instead of pastina (very similar).  Any small pasta works.
It's much easier to cook the chicken breast whole before cutting.


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