We recently moved into our first house, and with that came a bunch of changes to our kitchen and cooking arrangement. For one I have my first gas stove, which has been amazing, but another big change is quick access to a grill. In our last home we had a great grill area, but it was down 4 floors and across a court yard. This made mixing grilled and stove cooked ingredients into a single dish generally too complicated.
This pasta is the first good result of that new arrangement. Pulling together a long sauce, grilled meat and fresh lightly cooked vegetables is a great mix.
I use zucchini but a summer squash would work great too. You can leave out the peperoncinis if you want less heat, just marinate the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper and vinegar, to give it some salt and acid.
I used a Grand Cru for cheese the last time I made this, but anything with a bite will be great.
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (or fresh equivalent if available)
- Tomato paste
- 1/4 cup butter
- Onion diced
- Garlic minced
- Oregano (2 tsp dried)
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Bay leaf
- 3-4 chicken breasts
- Olive Oil
- Zucchini chopped
- Fresh Basil washed and torn
- Fresh Spinach washed and torn
- Sliced black olives (as much as you like)
- Hard sharp cheese grated
- Salt + pepper
- Sliced Peperoncini (Peppers and liquid)
- Brine- add the chicken to a container with some olive oil and the pickling liquid from the perperoncinis. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to a few. Pull out to come up to room temp 20-30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Bring either a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Brush the cooking surface with oil.
- Pull the chicken out of the brine and pat dry. Salt and pepper then add to the hot grill. Let it sit undisturbed for 7-8 minutes to allow a solid browning, then flip and do the same for the other side. Flip and rotate the chicken periodically after the initial sear to cross hatch the exterior.
- When the chicken is cooked through, set it aside to rest until you’re ready to mix the pasta.
- Bring a pan to heat over medium, then add in a few gluts of olive oil, the onion, a hit of salt and pepper, and the oregano.
- Stir until the onion goes soft and starts to brown, then add in the butter and garlic. Stir until the butter melts, then splash in some vinegar.
- Let cook for a couple minutes, then add the tomatoes and a bay leaf.
- Bring to a simmer, cover and drop heat to low.
- Stir occasionally and allow the tomatoes to soften and break down, and the liquid to thicken.
- After 45 minutes to an hour you should have a good chunky sauce consistency. If things are getting too thick, just add in some water. If too watery leave the lid off for a while and let some steam escape.
- Taste and add salt, pepper, or more vinegar as needed.
- Bring a large pot to boil, and add salt until you’ve got something tasting like the ocean.
- While the pot boils toss the zucchini with a generous amount of salt and lay out on a towel (this will draw out excess moisture in the zucchini)
- Add in your pasta and set a time for 2 minutes shorter than box instructions.
- At the timer toss in the zucchini in with the pasta and let everything boil together for 2 minutes. Check the pasta, and continue to cook until it’s tender, but still with a bite. Drain, reserving a cup or so of cooking liquid.
- Slice the chicken into thin strips.
- Add the chicken, pasta, zucchini, basil, spinach, peppers, cheese, olives and sauce into the pot. Gently mix until everything is incorporated. If things are a little thick, and the sauce isn’t stretching to all the pasta, add in cooking water, just a bit at a time, until things are good.
- Taste, and salt + pepper as needed.