Spicy Chicken Cavatappi
I must confess…I have this habit of taking something from the pantry and rather than just prepare it as it was intended, I feel to need to spruce it or, as my family calls it, “Lizifying” it up. This particular predisposition reared its head again the other day when Mai and Alex told me that they wanted pasta and sauce from the pantry. “Just sauce and pasta? That’s it?” Surely not…No…I just couldn’t leave it be…
A few years back, as I was experimenting with a few things, I found that you can very easily make a fantastic tomato sauce using jarred sauce as a base AND that I preferred finely diced chicken breast over ground beef as the meat base for my sauce. Tonight, my friends, presented the perfect opportunity to let the chicken and the sauce come out and play together again. A quick raid of my fridge for other fresh ingredients and I had a great meal in the making on my hands.
We (really by we I mean ME) prefer our sauce on the spicier side…I like to saute red pepper flakes with the chicken to take off the harsh burn of the pepper and then let it simmer in the sauce for about 15-20 minutes while I prepare my pasta. By doing this, the resulting sauce has a good heat to it, but it’s soft and not so overwhelming that you can’t taste the other flavors of the sauce. Paired up with the diced chicken which provides a good meaty texture with each bite, this “homemade” sauce is a family favorite.
This recipe below is my basic recipe for embellishing on a jarred sauce, but feel free to add whatever ingredients you have on hand or prefer. The beauty behind this dish is that with just a few added ingredients and tweaks, you can have a pretty impressive meal that comes together quickly and easily. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients and make it uniquely yours…the sky’s the limit!
Spicy Chicken Cavatappi
A Tastydesu creation
1lb dry Cavatappi (or your favorite pasta)
1 jar (about 24oz) of cabernet marinara sauce (or your favorite jarred sauce)
2 roasted red peppers, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 sun dried tomatoes, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced (I like some fresh tomatoes for texture)
1 small onion, diced
1 chicken breast, finely diced
1/3 cup red wine
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot until shimmering. Add in garlic and onion and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add in chicken and saute until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add in fresh tomatoes and continue to saute until tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in red pepper flakes, roasted red peppers and sun dried tomatoes, saute another 2 minutes. Add in tomato sauce, red wine, dried herbs (the trick to getting the most out of your herbs is to gently rub them between your fingers to release their essential oils before using), and sugar.
Mix well and allow to simmer over low heat while you prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain your pasta but do not rinse. Season your sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta to pot of sauce and mix well. Garnish with shredded cheese and fresh basil and enjoy!