The Recipe Box: Garlic Chicken and Pasta Skillet

A while ago, I felt like my dinner repertoire was getting, well, stale. Boring. Predictable. Who wants to eat the same set of dishes week after week? I needed something new. So when I came across this photo on Pinterest, I had to give it a try.

Yes, please!

The original post is called Garlic Chicken with Orzo Pasta; since my first attempt at this recipe, I’ve started playing around with spices and pasta shapes. These days, I just called it Garlic Chicken and Pasta Skillet.

The first time I made it, The Hubby fell in love. Once I started tweaking the recipe, he fell further in love. When I watch his face while he’s eating it, I sometimes wonder if he loves this dish more than he loves me!

Just kidding. Well, maybe. He’s a pasta lover.

Is carboholic a word? If it is, The Hubby should be the CEO of Carboholics Anonymous. If it’s not, I just made it up — and it should be a real group.

Ready to try something delicious and pretty healthy?

Calling all Carboholics!!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 package of chicken tenderloins or breasts (you could go with thin-sliced breasts for this, too)
8oz (or 1/2 a box) of pasta (any shape and type that you like)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated (I grate mine)
2 tablespoons parsley
2 cups (1 bag) spinach, optional

Just a few ingredients, and it’s so easy. Ready to cook?

So before you start prepping your chicken, you want to boil a pot of salted water. The reason for this is to make sure the pasta is done before or at the same time as the chicken, so that the meat doesn’t burn.

Once your water is heating up, go ahead and cut up your chicken into bite-size pieces. Don’t forget to wash your hands both before AND after you’re done!

The water is boiling! Go ahead and add your pasta. I’m using medium shells this time…

Now, in a large skillet, add your 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium-high. I like to drizzle it across the pan like this, but you can heat it in the skillet any way you like.

Once the oil is sufficiently heated, add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook until the garlic turns golden brown.

Your kitchen should smell fabulous by now. I, for one, could stand in my garlic-scented kitchen all day! Forget “stop and smell the roses” — in this house, we stop and smell the garlic! At least we know we’ll never be attacked by vampires!

Snapping out of my garlicky reverie, go ahead and add your chicken to the skillet. Give it a good stir to get the chicken coated with the garlic, red pepper flakes, and olive oil.

Let the chicken cook, stirring occasionally, until it takes on a golden brown hue like this:

By now, your pasta should be done. If you haven’t already, go ahead and drain it now and then add it to the skillet.

Add the parsley and stir to combine. (If you’re using spinach, add that in with the parsley, stir, and then cover it to help the spinach wilt. If you’re not using spinach, no need to cover.)

If you choose to, let the pasta and chicken sit for a minute or two to “marry” and then take the skillet off the heat and serve it. One of the last times I cooked this, though, I accidentally allowed it to sit for a few minutes too long while trying to corral Joshua Bear. When I turned off the heat and served it, the pasta was slightly browned in spots from contact with the skillet. I thought it’d be gross and taste like it was burned, but it was fabulous. It tasted as though the pasta had taken on the oil and garlic and sucked them in. Now I cook the pasta this way, every time, on purpose. The noodles carry the flavors on their insides. I urge you to try it!

Dinner is served! Mangia!!