I know it’s Whatever Wednesdays and I know that I usually don’t do “fancy” stuff on my official day off, but today I just have to share this recipe no matter what day it is.
The best part of making this dish? It only takes 30 minutes from fridge to table!
The next best part of making this dish? It is so delicious that Tim actually ate two huge helpings of just the veggies! Uh huh, he did. I had my hand on my phone to dial 911 because I was pretty sure that I was going to have a heart attack when he dished up the second helping.
I didn’t… thank goodness… but it was touch and go for a minute there!
So here’s how I came up with the recipe: I had 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the fridge today, along with 2 bell peppers, 3 small stalks of celery that escaped the Wings and Blue Cheese Football Fest on Sunday, half a red onion, 1 cup of baby spinach and half of a fat red tomato. There was also a box of rotini in the cupboard and some olive oil and herbs.
Uh huh, I decided to go Mediterranean all the way baby! I’m so glad I did, because this recipe is going into my monthly menu rotation pronto!
First up, the ingredients.
Sorry, no tomato in the photo, not sure where it was hiding…
I got my salted pasta water onto the stove to boil, then heated my trusty cast iron skillet over high heat. As soon as it was hot, I turned it down to medium and added a pat of butter. When that starting foaming a bit I added the chicken breasts, turning them as them browned. I also preheated my oven to 350F and grabbed a baking pan to hold the browned breasts.
Oh those poor pale little breasts, huh? Not to worry, in about 5 minutes, they looked like this:
While they browned on the second side I quickly gave my peppers, celery and red onions a rough chop. Big pieces, but not long strips. I wanted them to cook quickly, but still be chunky enough to have a bit of bite to them. Once that was done, I grabbed my trusty olive oil and some thyme, basil, sage, garlic and parsley. I mixed them together in a small bowl, then added a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar for acid.
As soon as the chicken was on the baking sheet, I slathered on some of the herb/oil mixture, saving about half of it for later.
Got those beauties into the oven to finish cooking, then slid all my roughly chopped veggies into the skillet to cook. Oh wait, not ALL of the veggies! The tomatoes and spinach would have cooked down into mush if they went in that soon, so I set those to the side. They’re more of a last minute thing.
These are some of my favorite kitchen helpers. They're Dang Good and I love 'em!
Oh I just love the bright colors, don’t you?
I gave them a quick fry on high temperature, just to brown them a bit on the edges, then turned the heat to low to keep them warm without over cooking them.
The pasta water was boiling at this point, so I added the rotini to the pot, gave it a good stir and went back to prepping more veggies. I chopped the tomato and tore the spinach into slightly smaller pieces.
When I checked in on the pasta and veggies again, they were ready for “spicing and saucing”. First up, I tossed in a pat of butter, for a nice creamy sauce. Yeah I know it’s a lot of fats so far, but trust me, it’s worth it!
Then the leftover herb mixture went in and I gave it all a good stir.
Once the veggies were all happily simmering in the herbs and butter, I added a can of chicken broth. By now the whole house was smelling AWESOME!
I just left the sauce and veggies to get all cozy together, checked the chicken, which was nearly done, and then checked the pasta, which was done. Drained the pasta and set it in a warm spot near the stove, then checked the chicken one more time. It was done…yay! Time to add the last two veggies to the skillet just to warm them a bit and then slice the chicken breasts and plate up.
And there you go, Mediterranean Style Chicken Breasts on the table in 30 minutes. Succulent, juicy, tender chicken paired with the mediterranean herbs, vegetables and hot pasta. Oh and did I mention that the veggies were smothered in a rich sauce? Uh huh, even managed to drizzle a little bit of the sauce onto my chicken breast before Tim hogged it all to himself…. along with the huge second helping of the vegetables.
So now you know why I posted a “fancy” dish on Whatever Wednesdays. Inspiration that results in something this delicious deserves to be talked about sooner…not later! So go look in your fridge and see if you have some vegetables that you can chop, cook and smother in a creamy sauce. I’m betting you do! Add a little chicken and you’ve got Mediterranean Style Chicken breasts to die for..no lie (cuz I nearly did when Tim ate the second helping of veggies!)
- 3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
- 2 Bell Peppers - red, orange or yellow will add great color to the dish
- 1 Red or Yellow Onion
- 3 Stalks of Celery
- 1 Medium Tomato
- 1 Cup Fresh Baby Spinach
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1 Can Chicken Stock or Broth
- For the Herb Baste:
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- ½ teaspoon each - Basil, Thyme, Sage, Garlic and Parsley
- 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 8 ounces Rotini or Fettucine Noodles
- Put a large pot of water and 3 tablespoons of salt onto the stove over high heat. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Heat a large cast iron or non-stick skillet on high heat for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of the butter.
- When the butter stops foaming, add the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side or till golden brown.
- While the chicken is browning, give the vegetables a rough chop. The pieces should be about 3 inch squares and the celery should be 1 inch pieces.
- Place the chicken breasts onto a baking pan, then spoon some of the herb mixture over each breast, spreading it with the back of a spoon so each breast is covered in the basting sauce.
- Set the remaining herb mixture aside for later use.
- Place the chicken breasts into the oven for 20 minutes.
- In the same skillet, over high heat, add the peppers, onions and celery, then stir just till they are brown on the edges...about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low. Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir well.
- Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomato and tear the baby spinach into bite sized pieces.
- After 5 minutes, check the pasta. If it's al dente, drain it and keep it warm near the stove.
- For thicker pasta, let it cook for another 3 minutes before draining.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the vegetables in the skillet. Turn the heat to high just to melt the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the remaining herb mixture to the skillet and stir well. Stir in the chicken broth. Bring it just to boiling over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Add the tomatoes and baby spinach to the pan. Do not stir till you are ready to serve.
- Check the chicken. It should no longer be pink in the thickest part of the breast.
- When the chicken if fully cooked, remove it from the oven. Let it rest for the remaining 5 minutes, then slice and serve with the pasta. Spoon some of the sauce and vegetables over the pasta and then drizzle a small amount of the sauce over the chicken.