Cooking can be stressful, especially for amateurs, but with some practice, it can become a lot of fun, both for you and those you’re sharing meals with. Two of the most versatile foods that even the least experienced cook can prepare are pasta and chicken. Cook books, recipe websites, and cooking blogs provide thousands of recipes incorporating both pasta and chicken.
A very popular recipe that involves these two foods is known as bruschetta chicken pasta. This meal combines pasta, grilled or roasted chicken, and the well-known Italian appetizer bruschetta, pieces of toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with a mixture of tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. This dish is perfect for those who are new to cooking, because it allows for a lot of wiggle room, and the recipe can be varied depending on particular tastes and flavors you’d like to incorporate. Here is a basic recipe for bruschetta chicken pasta, as well as some notes about variations that can be made to suit your own preferences.
This recipe is based around the mixture of flavors associated with bruschetta. Bruschetta is an antipasto, which is an Italian word for the first course of a meal, literally translated as “before the meal.” In American restaurants, bruschetta is a very popular appetizer, even in establishments that don’t serve exclusively Italian food. Bruschetta is typical of Italian cooking, in that it makes use of toasted bread, olive oil, garlic, and fresh vegetables (primarily tomatoes), all of which appear very frequently in Italian cuisine. Variations of bruschetta can include more traditionally Italian ingredients, including mozzarella cheese, cured meats, onions, or beans. Incorporating pasta into a bruschetta recipe makes this dish all the more Italian.
Italian foods are very popular among cooks of all skill levels, but there are a number of Italian recipes that are particularly appealing to those just learning to cook. One of the simplest meals to prepare is pasta, and pasta forms the foundation of many celebrated Italian dishes. If you can make pasta, you can slowly improve upon that skill, working your way up to more complex recipes, like lasagna, stuffed shells, ravioli, carbonara, or Fettuccine Alfredo. Italian cooking frequently involves a lot of spices as well, such as oregano and garlic, so experimenting with Italian recipes, like bruschetta chicken pasta, will familiarize you with the process of seasoning and spicing your food.
Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Recipe
Here are the basic ingredients you will need for a traditional bruschetta chicken pasta dish.
– 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (to feed two people, 2 half-pound chicken breasts)
– 2 tomatoes, cut into small pieces or diced
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 tablespoons chopped basil
– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
– ½ tablespoon crushed garlic
– ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
– ½ tablespoon salt
– ½ tablespoon black pepper
– 2 servings (about 12 oz.) pasta of your choice (angel hair recommended)
Follow these steps to prepare your bruschetta chicken pasta.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, basil, parsley, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix well, and then add the tomatoes and chicken breasts to the bowl, allowing them to be coated generously and evenly with the olive oil mixture.
- Move the contents of the bowl onto a baking sheet (line it with tinfoil for easier cleanup). Bake for thirty minutes, or until chicken is done.
- As the chicken cooks, boil hot water and prepare pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain the pasta; do not rinse with cold water, as it should stay warm. Try to start cooking the pasta halfway through the chicken’s cook time, so that they are finished at roughly the same time.
- Plate the pasta, pouring any extra juices from your baking sheet over the pasta. Place the chicken and tomatoes on top and serve.
Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Variations
There are a number of ways to add variety and a personal touch to this recipe. The fastest and simplest way would be changing the kind of pasta used. Many variations of this recipe call for angel hair pasta, but any kind will work, depending on what you like best, including rotini, penne, linguini, shells, and spaghetti. Each kind of pasta has a different suggested boiling time, however, so make sure you budget your time according to that before you begin cooking the chicken. Furthermore, a way to make the dish a bit more healthy would be to switch out regular pasta for a whole wheat or vegetable pasta, both available in most grocery stores. Additionally, you could decrease the amount of pasta served and add a garden or Greek salad to the meal.
Another element you can change in this recipe is the tomatoes. You can use vine ripe tomatoes and slice or dice them, but you can also use cherry or grape tomatoes, which are smaller, or plum tomatoes. Each of these has a slightly different flavor, so you can choose based on the kind of tomatoes you like best.
If you are looking for a recipe that incorporates chicken, tomatoes, and this blend of spices, but are looking to cut back on carbs, you can replace the pasta with a variety of vegetables. Spinach, broccoli, onions, and asparagus, sautéed in olive oil or steamed, are great pairings with these kinds of flavors.
Adding a balsamic glaze to balance out the olive oil is a popular practice with this dish. To make a balsamic glaze, combine a cup of balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of granulated sugar in a small pan, and bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and allow it to simmer until it develops the consistency of a syrup. This glaze can be drizzled over the chicken right before it is served.
The combination of spices and flavors in this recipe will compliment chicken very well, but will also enhance the flavor of white fish and salmon, if you are looking to substitute a different kind of protein. Olive oil in particular will add moisture to fish, so that when it is baked, it remains juicy and won’t dry out, as fish can easily do.
A popular alternative to baking chicken is grilling it. If you’d prefer to grill the chicken rather than to bake it, you can marinate the chicken and tomatoes in the olive oil mixture for about an hour before you grill, to let the flavor of the mixture soak into the meat.
And finally, this recipe can be boosted by increasing the amount of any of the flavors mixed with the chicken and tomatoes, such as basil, garlic, or parsley. Furthermore, you could add oregano, tomato juice, or lemon juice to the mixture before the chicken is coated to increase particular flavors. Parmesan cheese can be grated over the final product before it is served as well. All of these additions are choices that can be made based on your personal taste and the taste of those you’re cooking for.
Furthering Your Cooking
Bruschetta chicken pasta is a great recipe to master when you’re new to cooking. It’s simple, but still combines a few distinct foods, it can be adjusted in a number of ways according to your own preferences, and it tastes great! Once you’ve mastered this recipe, you can branch out to similar recipes that include both pasta and a protein, and eventually more complicated recipes with more complex steps involved in the cooking process. Bruschetta chicken pasta is a great way to develop your cooking basics, and becoming familiar with recipes like this is an important step to becoming a great cook.