Welcome to the third dish in the Big Fat Healthy Chicken Pasta Series.
I wanted to bring families some very easy, healthy pasta dishes (including a gluten free option) to put into your rotation that take no longer than twenty minutes to make. All you have to promise me is that you’ll gather your family and sit down at a table and eat together.
This dish is a balance of protein, good fat, healthy organic spinach and grape tomatoes.
I promise you here is an extra benefit to you, your family, your health if you can gather together and just appreciate the art of family dining.
Instead of those boxed cheesy shells, make this more nutritious meal.
This is my take on simple Italian using pasta shells, which is everyone’s childhood favorite. I used a gluten free version, which is surprisingly good from Ancient Harvest.
This is a great recipe for the busy family that reheats well and is so easy, it’s hard to call this a recipe.
When Making Boneless Breasts of Chicken with Pasta there are three Main Ways to Cook Them
All of the recipes I’m using for this series incorporate boneless chicken breasts. There are few ways you can do this and you can interchange the method. You’re goal is to have a tender piece of chicken.
- Oven Baked as I did in this recipe.
- Marinated and Grilled as I did here.
- Pan Fried in olive oil and/or butter as I did here.
You will end up with tender chicken, using any of these methods, a tricky thing to accomplish with boneless breasts. At any time, feel free to substitute with boneless, skinless thighs. You can also use chicken tenders.
Baking Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes in a Sheet Pan
You can also bake them in the oven at the exact same time, same pan as the cherry tomatoes. You will want to check them at ten minutes and use an instant read meat thermometer. The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165° Fahrenheit (75° Celsius). Please remove the chicken as soon as it hits that temperature.
I pan roasted cherry tomatoes which means no prep is necessary outside of a smattering of olive oil. They will burst open themselves, and taste really good.
I used Gluten Free Pasta Shells for this Chicken Pasta Dish
Today, I chose baby shells. I used this brand of gluten free pasta. It’s made with corn and quinoa and has enough body to fool you. Feel free to substitute your own favorite. If you’re not eating gluten free, orzo works great in this recipe.
You can cook the pasta while you’re making the chicken, while the tomatoes are in oven, making this a twenty minute dish, start to finish.
Toss in raw baby spinach and kale with the hot pasta. I used fresh basil for flavor, but you could skip this or add in some fresh thyme, oregano, or parsley.
You could also add in some chili pepper flakes to add some heat and fresh herbs such as basil.
This is clean eating, and less is best. If you feel like the dish doesn’t have enough pizazz, add in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. Don’t forget salt, as pasta or any starchy addition needs salt to taste good. I use this healthy himalayan sea salt in just about everything.
I’ve made this dairy free, but you can toss with favorite for this kind of cheese. Pecorino Romano is sharp, salty and can give a lift to any dish. You can go caprese style and add in slices of room temperature fresh mozzarella with fresh basil.
- 2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken tenders
- 8 ounces gluten free pasta shells I used this
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups organic baby spinach or super spinach
- fresh basil (optional)
- fresh mozzarella (optional)
- Prepare chicken breasts. If the chicken breasts are thick, slice through lengthwise.
- Make a marinade of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, using 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic.
- Allow chicken breasts to sit out for one hour with marinade brushed on them. You don't have to do this. You could just proceed with putting chicken in oven, but this does add extra tenderness to white meat chicken.
- Preheat oven to 350. Put water on to cook pasta.
- Put chicken breasts on one side of sheet pan, grape tomatoes on other side. Toss tomatoes with a small amount of olive oil.
- Bake in oven at 350 for approximately 20 minutes, checking at 10 for internal temperature of chicken, which should be at 165 degrees F to be safe. Turn chicken breasts over. Tomatoes will burst open on their own.
- Cook pasta according to directions.
- Drain pasta. Toss with olive oil. Immediately add greens while pasta is hot.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut chicken breast across about an inch each and add to pasta.
- Add in basil or parsley.
- If you feel the pasta needs more zing, drizzle some very good balsamic vinegar or a squeeze of lime to add in some acid and don't forget to salt.
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