Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pasta Fresca with Parmasean Crusted Chicken

This has always been my favorite dish at the restaurant Noodles and Co.  We're trying to cut back on eating out to save money, so my new challenge is to try to replicate my favorite restaurant dishes at home.  This one turned out great!  Even Mike thought it tasted just like the restaurant version, if not better.

For the pasta:


1 box penne pasta (I used whole wheat to be healthier)
1 roma tomato, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
A large handful of fresh baby spinach leaves (Yes, that is a proper unit of measurement.  I literally went to the bin of bulk spinach and put one handful in the bag.  Well I used to tongs be hygienic, but the bag was in my hand)
A few shakes of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil

For the fresca sauce:
1/4 cup fresh garlic
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sweet white wine
1 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. While pasta is cooking, combine the ingredients listed above to make your fresca sauce.

2. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion, and saute for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to turn transparent.

3. Then add the tomato and cooked pasta.  Saute for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until steaming hot.

4. Finally, add your spinach and fresca sauce.  The recipe says to add 1oz of the fresca sauce you prepared, but I usually just throw it all in (I mean, what would you do with it if you saved it?).  Doing so makes the flavor quite a bit strong than what they serve in the restaurant, but I think it's even more delicious that way!  But use your judgment. 

5. Cook just until the spinach is wilted (only about a minute or so), stirring constantly.  Then remove from heat and toss to combine.  Serve with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

For the chicken: 


1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), melted
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I used dried - it was fine)

A large pinch of Italian seasoning (herb mix)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken meat, cut into pieces no larger than 2x2 inches


1.  Preheat oven to 450°F and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish (I always end up needing a second, smaller dish)

2.  In a bowl, combine the minced garlic with the melted butter.  In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, Italian seasoning, and pepper).

3.  Dip your chicken pieces first into the garlic butter, then into the crumb mixture to coat.

4.  Place the coated chicken pieces in the baking dish, leaving a little room between each piece.  If you have any butter remaining at the end, you can drizzle that into the pan too.

5.  Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.

6.  Serve over pasta.

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