Some days my kids get sick of salad. And I get sick of serving it. Don't tell them that last part. So I put the salad in the pasta tonight.
This is a dinner that cooks in 30 minutes, including chop and prep time. In the summer, I'd use fresh tomatoes, chopped and juicy and oh-so-perfect. Today, I used a can of diced tomatoes. Looking at the dish, I wish I'd used 2 cans. That's ok. My "I don't like tomato" kids will be happier, no doubt.
Here it is. Make it, vary it, taste it, serve it with bread to mop up the sauce. The recipe below ought to serve at least 8 people.
Penne with Chicken, Tomatoes and Spinach
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
salt and pepper
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
very large pinch (1/2 - 1 tsp) red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried basil
1 (or 2) 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1/2 or 3/4 cup dry white wine
4 ounces fresh baby spinach, washed and stemmed
1 1/2 pounds penne (or similar pasta), cooked, and drained, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid
In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook, seasoning with salt and pepper, until just barely done. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Turn down the heat to medium low and add the garlic, pepper flakes and oregano, then cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, a bit more salt and pepper. Turn up the heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan, taste for seasoning. This is the time to decide if you like more spice, so add some more red pepper flakes, will ya?
Add the spinach, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.
Add the pasta to the skillet, plus some of the cooking liquid, to make a silky sauce that isn't too soupy, but coats the pasta. Taste again.
Serve with parmesan cheese and crusty bread!