Yeah….it’s tax season….my day job is working with an accountant….I’m tired and unmotivated….but there is food to be made! and a blog to be updated!
Therefore the theme for this week is….simple and comforting.
My big go to comfort food is a big bowl of spaghetti smothered with cheese, but I have to adjust to fit Paul’s tastes too, and – though a pure-blood Italian – he’s not a huge fan of pasta. So the compromise turned into my adaptation of the classic Chicken parmigiana with spaghetti.
I inadvertently made a somewhat healthier version of the dish too – always a surprise when comfort food is actually good for you too!
The recipe is simple, you start with some roasted tomatoes and garlic, pan fry some chicken and layer along with fresh mozzarella and basil.
My Chicken Parm Recipe:
4 pints of cherry/grape tomatoes
12-15 cloves of garlic
3-4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
handful of fresh basil
3/4 lb of brown rice spaghetti
The Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic:
Dump four pints of cherry tomatoes into a parchment lined
pan – or multiple pans there should only be one layer of tomatoes, otherwise they don’t roast properly. Peel a handful of garlic and cut each piece in half. Push each
piece of garlic down into the tomatoes, generously pour olive oil over
the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the 400′ F oven.
These take about 20-25 minutes. You want the tomatoes to pop and release
their juices and have the juices almost start to burn, the tomatoes
should just start take on a nice char.
Take three or four boneless, skinless chicken breast place them in between two pieces of parchment paper – not overlapping (do one at a time if necessary). Gently tenderize…I used a hammer as I don’t have a meat tenderizer – also good for stress relief. the thinner the better, but don’t pulverize them! Salt and pepper both sides
In a skillet heat about two tbsp of olive oil on high heat. Place two pieces of chicken in the skillet at a time – again don’t overlap. cook for approx 5 minutes on each side or until lightly golden brown.
The Whole Enchilada:
In a 8×8 baking dish pour a bit of olive oil – just so things don’t stick – and place the browned chicken in an even layer on the bottom. When the tomatoes are done pour them on top of the chicken – juices and all! Reserve about half a cup to mix into your spaghetti – or use all of the tomatoes on the chicken and mix the spaghetti with a little store bought sauce – it isn’t cheating if you make 90% of the meal from scratch.
Cut some fresh Mozzarella into 1/4 slices and cover the top of the tomatoes, gently pushing down into the tomato mix. Tear up some fresh basil and dot on top. Salt and pepper the top, cover with tin foil and put into the oven at 400′ F.
Put your pasta water on to boil at around the same time that the dish goes into the oven, and cook according to the package. I used brown rice spaghetti, but whatever you prefer works here.
After about 30-40 minutes the cheese should be nice and melted, remove the tin foil and bake until the top gets nice and brown – about ten more minutes. Toss the pasta with the reserved tomatoes or your store bought stuff. Voila! time to eat! Serve this up with a nice red wine and dig in.
I know this week may seem a bit lackluster, but it was delicious. We didn’t miss the extra heaviness that breading the chicken normal adds, and the fresh tomatoes add a rustic texture and sweetness that can be missing from a traditional sauce. And sometimes life just makes it impossible to be luxurious and involved with cooking, but it doesn’t have to mean sacrifice.
So here’s to simple and comforting!