SPICY PENNE WITH CHICKEN, FRESH TOMATO SAUCE AND GREENS

Six Servings

My family loves all types of noodles, Asian and Italian, so I‘m always looking for new ideas. This dish is also terrific with leftover roasted chicken. The fresh arugula tossed into the hot pasta at the last minute makes this dish special and is a great way to get my son to eat more vegetables.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¾ to 1 teaspoon crushed dried chili flakes

3 pounds cherry tomatoes, rinsed and cut in half

12 leaves or about 2/3 cup large fresh basil leaves, rinsed, drained, and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound whole wheat penne pasta

5 cups arugula, rinsed, spun dry, and coarsely cut into bite-size pieces

1 ½ pounds roasted chicken meat

1/3  cup good-quality store bought pesto

1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

½ cup  grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until hot. Add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté for 5 seconds until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook over high heat until the tomatoes are beginning to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. Gently break up the tomatoes and stir while they are cooking. Add the basil, salt, and pepper and cook gently for a few minutes.

2 ..Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of salted water in a large pot to a boil. Add the penne and cook about 10-12 minutes until al dente. (See package instructions.) Drain in a colander.

3. Add the arugula to tomatoes, stir, and cover. Let them cook for a few minutes, then add the cooked penne and toss together. Scoop the pasta into a big salad or serving bowl. Arrange the chicken on top. Quickly mix the pesto with the vinegar and olive oil and pour over the top. Sprinkle with the freshly grated cheese and serve immediately.

© Copyright Nina Simonds 2009

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