Even though my brain was fried and my body was near collapse, I somehow managed to pull off an amazing (and quick!) dinner. I knew by noon that I would need to rely on easy proteins and basic ingredients, since I had no desire to battle the supermarket crowd, so I did what I always do–rummage through the pantry and refrigerator to see what I had on hand and prepare a “Chopped!” style dinner.
Ingredients on hand: chicken breasts, assortment of pastas, lentils, barley, 2 potatoes, bbq sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, black olives, rolled oats, red onion, garlic, A jalapeno (yes, only 1), cheese, canned soup, heavy cream, chipotle peppers in adobo, brussel sprouts, carrots, a variety of sandwich & breakfast meats, beer, one loaf of Pan Sobao (Puerto Rican sweet bread), and fruit.
Something has to work. I couldn’t let this intimidate me. Seriously, just a day before, I’d competed in a #Hashed competition at Food Wine Conference in which I was given a tale full of products our sponsors, 15 minutes to prep, and only 15 minutes to cook. If I can do that, I can create a dinner out of a hodge podge pantry & refrigerator.
So, I started with the basics…chicken, pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic. That was easy. Well, now we need to jazz it up, so I pulled the jalapeno, tomato sauce, cheese, jalapeno, black olives, heavy cream, and every spice in the cabinet.
The result…A hearty, Mediterranean-inspired, spicy pasta with chicken, black olives, jalapeno, and covered in melty cheese and served with garlicy sweet bread.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts-cut into small, bite-size pieces
3 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp of each: salt, black pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander, garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c. chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno-seeds & membranes removed & chopped
1 c. water
15 oz. can diced tomato
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. sliced black olives
1/2 pound small pasta–I used radiatore
1 c. shredded cheese–I used mozzarella
In a bowl, combine diced chicken and spices. Toss to coat. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry chicken in olive oil until lightly browned. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno and continue to cook over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften. Deglaze pan with water. Stir to remove all stuck on bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is al dente, drain in a colander.
After 15 minutes of simmering, add sliced olives and cooked pasta. Stir to combine.
Top with shredded cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese melts sufficiently.
**So what happened the heavy cream? Yeah…I forgot about it until after dinner was done! Oh well…I’ll use it in scones tomorrow morning.