Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chicken Caprese Pasta

Here is an outstanding pasta dish that is extremely flavorful and healthy. The trick to reducing the carbs from pasta is to take a small amount and stretch it. In this recipe, only 3 ounces feeds four people, but you'll not feel deprived at all! The plum tomatoes make this dish especially fresh tasting, light and delicious but, if time is an issue, you can substitute petite diced from a can and eliminate the salt.

Insalata Caprese is the inspiration for this pasta dish. Traditionally, it is a combination of sliced tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil. Also, a balsamic dressing is common. I've added more vegetables to the fresh tomatoes to boost the nutrition and created a balsamic-tomato sauce that brings it all together beautifully. Looking for a meatless meal? Simply leave out the chicken and enjoy.

Chicken Caprese Pasta
(Makes 4 servings)

3 ounces dry spaghetti or angel hair pasta (I recommend Dreamfield’s)
1½ teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces chicken tenders (about 4 tenders)
4 cups seeded and chopped plum tomatoes (about 6 tomatoes)
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup zucchini, quartered and sliced (½ medium zucchini)
3 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tablespoons fresh basil, rolled and sliced into ribbons (or 1 tablespoon dried)
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
Ground black pepper to taste
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes (or purchase small balls in the cheese section of your grocery)

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chicken broth

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. While water is boiling and pasta is cooking, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook about 3 minutes per side until juices run clear; remove to plate and cool until it can be handled. Shred or cut into bite-size pieces; set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon olive oil to pan and add onion. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until beginning to soften. Add zucchini and garlic; saute for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. While vegetable mixture is simmering, in a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients; set aside.

4. Add baby spinach to vegetables and cook until wilted. Add pepper, basil, drained cooked pasta, chicken and sauce mixture to skillet and toss until pasta is coated and vegetable sauce is well distributed. Remove from heat and add fresh mozzarella; stir to combine and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 253 calories, 30 g carbohydrate, 8.3 g total fat, 2.2 g saturated fat, 4.6 g fiber, 285.5 mg sodium, 17.8 g protein

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

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