Friday, September 25, 2009

Pasta with Chicken and Olives - Simple Sophistication, Quick and Easy

Elaborate recipes are great fun, but some days I just want something quick and easy. Those are the days for Pasta with Chicken and Olives. Thanks to the development of olive bars and rotisserie chicken in grocery stores, I can have this on the table in thirty minutes or less.

The olive cart at my local grocer is small but wonderful. For this recipe, I have a bias toward green olives - they tend to be a bit firmer, and their flavor goes well with chicken. But the key is to pick out a blend. I pick out a mix of 2 cups or so of olives, black and green, mostly pitted, along with a few bright red Peppadew peppers (read their odd story here)
and some caper berries. (If you've never used caper berries, just cut off their stem and prepare yourself for a briny, grainy treat.)

Don't use the slotted spoons when scooping out your olives. That juice is key to infusing the dish with flavor. I usually wind up with juice covering about half the olives.

When you get home, start a pot of water boiling for the pasta (use your favorite variety, though I prefer good old fettucini). Take about half of the meat off the chicken, in bite-sized chunks. Set it aside, and chop the olives, peppers and capers into smaller pieces. No mincing, just breaking them up a little. Dump them with the juice into a pan big enough to hold the pasta when it's ready, and heat them up.

Then go to your refrigerator and see what enhancements you want to toss in. A little Siracha sauce is great. Pepperoncini add a spicy bite. A little garlic flavor from a splash of bottled Garozzo's Amogio sauce is great. A squeeze of lemon or a little white wine works, too.

Once the pasta is cooked just a bit shy of al dente, drain it and toss it in with the olives. Add the chicken meat and cook it for 5 or so minutes so that some of the juice flavor gets into the pasta, and the dish is heated through. Mix it all up and serve it.

If you have a loaf or crusty bread or a salad, all the better, but the meal is satisfying as is. It's a lot cheaper than getting a pizza delivered, and it's even better for lunch the following day.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet some fresh grated parmesan mixed in would balance this dish nicely. The kind you grate yourself, not store bought.

9/25/2009 9:13 AM  

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