Slightly Spicy Pasta Puttanesque-a

Faced with a full pantry and a bare-bones fridge, I had to do some quick thinking for our next meal that we were quickly growing hungry for. Most chefs would mock my version of puttanesca (hence my clever name, don’t you think?), but I still couldn’t think of a better label for this blend of flavors.

True, it lacks the salty anchovies (making it suitable for vegans / vegetarians), and I did allow some leeway on the olives you can use (pitted kalamata olives would be best, but when you only have cheap black ones on hand they will just have to do!), but this is still a nice, flavorful dish that can be dressed up or down, however you like.

Pasta Puttanesque-a

Slightly Spicy Pasta Puttanesque-a
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Low-Fat, optionally Gluten-Free / Wheat-Free, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Crushed Garlic or 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce Can Diced Tomatoes (no salt added) or 2 lbs of Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (more if you like)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, more or less to taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1 Cup Olives, quartered (kalamata and/or green would be best, but my cheapo pantry version just used the black ones I had in the cupboard, and it was still tasty!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine (2-Buck Chuck will do)
  • 8 oz Pasta (I used whole wheat penne, but go gluten-free if needed)

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-heat. Add the garlic, and saute for just a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, onion powder, salt, and pepper (if using). Bring the sauce to a boil, promptly reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. While that is simmering, you can prepare any other additions (see notes below).

Your sauce should have thickened a bit, so now you can add the olives, capers, and wine, and allow it to keep warm over low heat while you prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Once the pasta is ready, dish up!

Optional Additions:

Chicken: I thinly sliced (1/4-inch thick) 1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breasts. I sprinkled them with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of  salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (I skipped the black pepper in the sauce). I then drizzled a little bit of wine over the top and stirred to coat the chicken with the cornstarch mixture. From there, I heated about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet, and sauteed the chicken until it was cooked through (no pink!) but still tender. I added the chicken to my sauce just before serving.

Vegetarian-Style: In my opinion, this sauce is just begging for cauliflower. Cook 12 ounces of florets in the sauce, or lightly steam them, layer them atop your pasta, and pour the sauce on.

Yields 4 very flavorful servings

Bloggy Events: I am submitting this post to Presto Pasta Nights! The upcoming event is being hosted by Thyme for Cooking. It is also being submitted to Thrifty Thursdays over at Amanda’s Cookin’.

The World’s Easiest Healthy Chicken Recipe

Quite the claim, I know. And while it may or may not be true, this meal is unbelievably simple … and the recipe is a cinch to customize to your own tastes. My husband quite literally threw this dish together one night when we were starving and uninspired. It has since become one of our go-to meals on those hurried nights.

Please excuse the less than stellar photo. It was night (no light), but I still wanted to give you an idea of the end result …

salsachicken

Tony’s Two-Ingredient Salsa Chicken
This recipe is Low-Fat, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and Sugar-Free

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Cup Salsa (your favorite will do, see below)
  • Chopped or Sliced Olives (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and lightly grease a baking dish large enough to fit the chicken.

If your chicken breasts are particularly thick, you may want to butterfly them for a faster cooking time and to ensure that they evenly cook through. Lay the chicken breasts in a single later in the baking dish, douse with salsa, sprinkle with olives (if using), and put it in the oven, uncovered. Bake for about 30 minutes. The baking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken. You don’t want to cook it for too long, lest the meat become tough, but do make sure it is cooked through, with no pink left in the middle.

Choosing your salsa – One of the great things about this dish is that you can easily customize the flavor. Go mild (for timid taste buds) or extra-spicy (for fire lovers), use green salsa, a fresh homemade salsa, or stick with the cheapest all-natural salsa in a jar that you located on sale at your local grocer for $1.34 (that would be our pick!).

Make it a meal – I throw in some veggies to roast for an easy one dish meal. You can either add some extra salsa to flavor the veggies, or toss the veggies with just a wee bit of oil, some salt and pepper, and place them in the baking dish around the chicken just before you put it in the oven. I like cauliflower florets best, which seem to roast to perfection along with the chicken. 

To serve – We usually have a grain-free dinner, with just the chicken and a plate full of veggies, but this meal also goes well with rice.

Yields 2 to 3 servings

Taste & Create: Balsamic Chicken with Vegetables

Last week our favorite “farmers” market (a grocery store, but focused on produce, bulk foods, fresh items, etc.) had boneless, skinless chicken breasts on for $1.67 per lb. Since we are using more lean protein, we stocked up. Okay, that is an understatement. We packed our tiny little freezer right to the ice maker!

So, when my Taste & Create partner was announced, I ♥ Food 4 Thought, I went straight to the categories on her site and selected chicken. One dish immediately caught my eye, the Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms. Let me tell you, it is delcious! In fact, I have already made it a few times. The first time I followed the recipe exactly, and then I added in some of her suggestions and a few of my own tweeks.

Thank you Clara – this is a great light and easy dish! So light in fact, that you should be able to justify some dessert from her other blog, I ♥ Cuppycakes.

balsamic chicken

Balsamic Chicken with Vegetables
Recipe adapted from I ♥ Food 4 Thought
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free

This dish can be made on the fly, but it is best if you plan ahead, and let the chicken marinade for at least 4 to 24 hours.

  • 1 lb Chicken Breasts
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Crushed Garlic or 4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 8 Ounces Mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on size)
  • 1 Small Onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 Medium Zucchini, sliced

Spread the chicken out in a dish. Combine the vinegar, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour 3 Tablespoons of this mixture over the chicken, flipping it to coat, and cover. Cover the leftover marinade. Place the chicken and leftover marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours if you have the time.

When ready to cook, heat the teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, moving it around to cover (can use cooking spray instead). Add the chicken along with all of its marinade (not the reserved marinade) and cook until it is cooked through (no pink left in the middle) – I cover it to retain moisture – flipping only once. Remove the chicken and divide it among your serving plates.

Add the onions to your skillet, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini and reserved marinade, and cook for 2 more minutes, followed by the mushrooms, cooking until all the vegetables reach your desired doneness. Serve the vegetables alongside the chicken. If desired, this dish goes nicely with a grain, such as brown rice or quinoa.

Want some Broccoli?: Instead of the zucchini use 6 to 8 ounces of broccoli florets. Add the florets after just one minute of cooking the onion, along with 1 tablespoon of broth, wine, or water. Cover, and allow the broccoli to cook for a few minutes, before removing the lid and adding the reserved marinade and mushrooms.  Proceed cooking until the vegetables are done to your liking. Since the mushrooms will release some additional liquid, you may want to sprinkle on a little flour to thicken the sauce.

Note: If there is any leftover sauce that looks a bit runny, I like to thicken it for a minute or two after I plate the vegetables, by sprinkling in just a little bit of flour (your choice) and whisking over the heat then drizzling it over the chicken and veggies.

Yields 2 to 4 servings (depending on your appetite, and if you serve it with a grain)

Balsamic Chicken