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As the weather cools, my menu plans tend to lean more toward warm, savory dishes………..comfort-food-style flavors. Typically, it takes long, slow braising, roasting or simmering to develop deep, rich flavors like that; but on busy weeknights, I need recipes that don’t require so much time. I created this easy, one-pot meal to satisfy all those requirements and it has become one of our family’s favorite dishes. I hope your family enjoys Chicken Florentine Pasta as much we do!
You already know we live in a small town and it’s important to me that I can get all the ingredients I need for our weeknight meals, right here, at our local Walmart. It saves me time and money if I don’t have to drive to the city to find what I need. That’s another reason I love this simple recipe….one-stop shopping. I grabbed a bag of Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken Strips in the freezer section and Barilla’s new Pronto Pasta was nestled alongside all the other pasta, in its bright blue box. A quick run through the produce department for fresh spinach and grape tomatoes and I had everything I needed to combine with my pantry ingredients to make a scrumptious one-pot supper.
Mis en place (mees en plos) — that’s the fancy French way of saying “get all your ingredients together and prepped before you start”. It’s the best way to save time in the kitchen and an important part of busy, weeknight cooking. I like the onions and garlic to be minced super fine, for this recipe. So, I do all the mincing, first. The flavors of both are so important in this recipe, but for the best texture, they need to be super small, because they will soften and almost melt undetectably into the sauce. You’ll get all the nutrition and flavor without textures that kids sometimes have a problem with. Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken is already perfectly cooked. The scrumptious, grilled chicken breasts are 98% fat-free and pre-sliced into strips, making them an easy addition to any weeknight recipe. Only having to heat the chicken slices through makes them a perfect companion ingredient with Barilla’s new Pronto Pasta, too. They both cook so quickly, they are fantastic in one-pot meals. With Barilla Pronto Pasta there’s no need to wait for water to boil. You can start it in a pot of cold water and have perfect al dente pasta in about 10 minutes! It comes in three shapes, spaghetti, penne and rotini. I only used dried herbs, which were already in my pantry and needed no prep. And I sliced the grape tomatoes, in the few minutes it took to cook the chicken and pasta. So, as you can see, even my mis en place were quick and simple for this recipe.
Melt butter, over medium-high heat, in a cast iron skillet or heavy pot and add the minced onions and garlic. Cook them for a minute or two until the mixture becomes fragrant and onions begin to soften.
Next you will add the pasta and chicken. Take my word for it and add the pasta to the skillet, FIRST. I learned the hard way, that the first few minutes of cooking and stirring will be so much simpler if the pasta is under the chicken. lol So, pasta first, chicken next and then pour the chicken stock over everything. Turn the heat up to high, so you can get the chicken stock boiling.
You probably wouldn’t have to add any other seasonings to still enjoy this dish, but I loved the earthy, aromatic flavors that parsley and basil bring to it, so I added them along with the salt. Once the stock is boiling, you can reduce the heat to medium and allow everything to cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir it occasionally, as the pasta softens, to keep things from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
The pasta was perfectly cooked and the chicken heated through after 10 minutes of boiling, on my stove. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes longer to continue reducing the last little bit of chicken stock that hadn’t been absorbed by the pasta. It thickened as it cooked down, combining with the starches form the pasta to make a luxurious, intensely chicken-y sauce for the dish.
I turned off the heat and stirred in Parmesan cheese, the halved grape tomatoes and fresh spinach. The heat from the chicken and pasta will warm the tomatoes and spinach, while they still retain their fresh texture and color. That’s a MUST in our family, since my husband and kids don’t like the softness of fully-cooked, fresh tomatoes or spinach. You can certainly handle this in a way that suits your own family’s tastes, though. It’s even possible to reserve the spinach and tomatoes to be added to individual plates. Then leftovers (if you are lucky enough to have any) can be reheated without overcooking the tomatoes and spinach.
It’s a whole meal in one skillet and you will adore the savory, delicious flavor that can be achieved in about 30 minutes of prep and cook time! Your family won’t have to know how simple it was! Add some crusty French bread to the plate and it will be a perfect, satisfying fall meal that can even be served on busy weeknights! Enjoy!
- 1 bag (22 oz) Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips
- 1 (12 oz) box Barilla Pronto Spaghetti
- 1 qt (4 cups) chicken stock
- ¼ cup (half a stick) butter
- ½ cup onion, finely minced
- 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsely
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- Melt the butter, over medium high heat, in a cast iron skillet or heavy pot.
- Add onion and garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes until it becomes fragrant and the onions begin to soften.
- Add the dry pasta, then the chicken.
- Pour chicken stock over everything and turn heat to high to get chicken stock boiling.
- Add the salt, parsley and basil and stir everything together.
- Stir occassionally during cooking to prevent pasta from sticking to bottom of skillet as chicken stock reduces.
- When the stock begins to boil, reduce heat to medium and allow to continue cooking about 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. The chicken and pasta should be done cooking, at this point.
- Continue cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes to reduce the chicken stock to your desired thickness. The goal is to allow the pasta starch to combine with the reduced chicken stock to create a small amount of thickened sauce in the bottom of the skillet. There won't be a lot .. just enough to stir through the dish and enhance the savory flavors.
- Remove from heat and stir in halved grape tomatoes, spinach and Parmesan cheese.
- Serve with your favorite crusty bread.
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