Chicken Parmesan Pasta
Friends. I’ve been a very, very bad blog lady.
I made this delicious Chicken Parm Pasta forever ago, and the sexy video I posted of it on Instagram got some peeps all hot and bothered. I promised the recipe was “coming soon,” and then…I completely forgot about it. Chalk it up to cookbook brain. And spring breeaaaaakkkk.
Lucky for all of us, my dad came over last night, and somehow the dinner table conversation made its way to chicken Parmesan. This isn’t quite as unusual as you would think, as my Dad, “Daddy” (aka Logan), and I all love to talk about delicious things we’ve eaten recently, and my dad had apparently crushed a truly excellent chicken Parm at Scalinatella on Tuesday night.
Sidenote: I did not include Scalinatella on my list of NYC restaurant favorites—mostly because it’s on the Upper East Side—but I do love it. Truly delicious old-school Italian, great ambience, lots of celeb sightings (if you’re into that), and apparently, killer chicken Parm.
I was midway through a friendly debate with my favorite dudes on the health benefits of chicken vs. veal Parm (negligible—ain’t no meat “healthy” when it’s breaded, deep fried, and smothered in cheese…did they not read The Dude Diet?!) when it hit me. I had never posted the Chicken Parm Pasta Bake!
Like I said, I’ve been a bad blog lady.
[I’m picturing you checking the site religiously for the past two months, and screaming, “Serena! The Chicken Parm Pasta! FUCK!”]
But it’s here now. Better late than never?!!
I don’t want to overhype this recipe, but since I haven’t used my two favorite adjectives in a reasonable period…
This pasta is both mind-blowing and life-changing, and I truly feel like it has the potential to develop Dude Diet cult status alongside the Cheeseburger Quinoa Bake and Buffalo Fingies. Loaded with a lean ground chicken meat sauce, and topped with melt-y fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, and crispy, crunchy Panko breadcrumbs, this baby has all the comforting, drool-worthy chicken Parm flavors you love, just in a slightly healthier form. HALLELUJAH.
In other excellent news, the recipe comes together in about 40 minutes from start to finish, and the sauce can be made up to two days in advance. Big plus for those of you looking to entertain with this bad boy. (Virtual chest bump.)
I like to use Banza shells, which are made with chickpeas, to up the protein, fiber, and vitamins in this feast, but I also love it with whole wheat or brown rice shells. (I like Jovial brand for brown rice pasta.) I dig ground chicken in this pasta for its texture and the fact that it cooks in about 5 minutes, but you could easily sub two diced idiotproof chicken breasts or shredded meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. As always, you do you.
p.s. I know this isn’t the spring-iest of offerings, but it hasn’t been the spring-iest of springs, so I’m hoping you’ll still get down with this hearty, healthyish pasta. Maybe this weekend? Add wine and couch, and you’ve got yourself quite the party. #untzuntz
- 8 ounces pasta whole-wheat or grain-free i.e. brown rice medium shells
- 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion minced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 pound lean ground chicken breast
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves chopped (plus extra for serving)
- 3 packed cups baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- One 4-ounce ball fresh mozzarella sliced into thin rounds
- 3 tablespoons whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is very soft and the garlic is fragrant. (Be careful not to burn the onion and garlic! If they start to brown, turn down the heat immediately.) Add the ground chicken and salt and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat into small pieces with a spatula or until no longer pink. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using). Gently simmer the sauce for 15 minutes to thicken it slightly and allow the flavors to combine. Stir in the basil and ¼ cup of the Parmesan, then add the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic. Taste the sauce and season with a little extra salt and crushed red pepper if needed.
Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions and drain. (If using gluten-free pasta be sure to rinse with cold water.)
Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
Transfer the pasta to a medium baking dish and top with the mozzarella. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and remaining Parmesan cheese.
Place the baking dish under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the bread crumbs are nicely browned, about 1-2 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning!)
Garnish with extra basil if you like and serve warm.
*This post is sponsored by my longtime friends at Peapod Delivers. As always, all opinions are very obviously my own.
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