I’ve been a big fan of the one pot pasta approach for a while now. My One-Pot Bacon Pizza Pasta and One Pot Tex Mex Pasta Toss are some of the more popular dishes among the ‘busy parent’ and teen cooking classes I teach. The dishes are well loved for their taste, ease, economy, and one-pot clean-up.
All that practicality aside, ohmygoodness, but they taste wonderful. Because the pasta cooks in the sauce, it soaks up all the deliciousness the sauce has to offer. This makes it far more flavour packed than a pasta that is simply dressed with sauce. It feels like a magic trick to use one pot to do all this and have it turn out so delicious.
Today’s version? Oooh, baby. It’s pretty incredible. I’ve taken classic Chicken Parmesan flavours and made them into this lush twenty-five minute pasta dish. The process is much like in the earlier one-pot dishes but starts with one seemingly minor and eventually crucial step. In your clean, dry pot -before any chicken touches it- you melt a little butter with some olive oil and toast a few panko bread crumbs with some herbs and spices. The hot, golden-brown bread crumbs are removed from the pan and tossed with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and left to cool and become even more crisp. Chicken is browned in a little olive oil then removed to a plate. And with that, the bulk of the work is done. All that remains is to add the remaining ingredients to the pot, bring it to a boil and toss it about with some tongs until the combination of heat, tomatoes and onions cooking down, and starch released from the pasta creates its own sauce. Oh, what a sauce it is, too.
You’ve used kitchen alchemy to produce a garlicky, creamy tomato basil sauce around pasta and bite-sized pieces of chicken. When it’s topped with a little fresh basil and the crispy, buttery parmesan bread crumbs, it tastes just like a plate of Chicken Parmesan, minus the heartburn and ridiculous calorie count. It tastes indulgent without actually being so. This is my version of winning at life.
- While I love, love, LOVE starting this dish with fresh tomatoes and onions, I can’t sell it to the no-veg contingent that way. It’s every bit as easy to make it with an equivalent amount of crushed tomatoes or tomato purée and some granulated onion in place of the fresh ones. It’s still delicious… but I make it with the fresh stuff every chance I get.
- Tongs are your friends with this recipe. You could make it using two spoons to turn and toss everything, but you’ll be working twice as hard.
- Don’t cook this until all the liquid is absorbed. You should cook just until the pasta is done to your liking. Use your tongs to remove noodles for tasting at regular intervals. The sauce will thicken a bit on standing. Don’t worry!
- I’ve been told that my one-pot pasta dishes work equally well with Brown Rice Pasta if you’re looking for a gluten-free option. In that case, you’d want to use some Gluten Free Breadcrumbs as well. These are available from my beloved Amazon. The following links are both Amazon affiliate links:
Creamy tomato basil sauce coated pasta with bite-sized pieces of chicken, fresh basil and crispy, buttery parmesan bread crumbs tastes just like a plate of Chicken Parmesan, minus the heartburn and ridiculous calorie count.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch pieces
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 pound box dried linguine
- 3 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes (*See Notes)
- 1 large onion, trimmed of both ends, halved, peeled, and cut into thin strips
- 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
- 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn, plus more for serving
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced or roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- In a large skillet or pot with high sides, melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over MEDIUM LOW heat. Add the panko crumbs and granulated garlic to the pan, then stir and toss to evenly coat the crumbs with the butter and oil mixture. Toast, stirring constantly, until the crumbs smell like toast and are a lovely golden brown colour. Scrape the crumbs out of the pan and into a bowl immediately. Toss the Italian seasonings and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese into the bread crumbs and let them sit on the counter while you prepare the rest of the meal.
- Return the pan to the burner and raise the heat to MEDIUM HIGH. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat the pan. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper over the chicken. Add the chicken to the hot oil and do not disturb it for 2 minutes. Use tongs to flip the chicken pieces to brown the second side for an additional 2 minutes. Be happy if there are little caramelized bits of chicken stuck to the pan. That equals flavour and will be a delicious part of the finished sauce. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl. Tent the bowl lightly with foil.
- Add the linguine, tomatoes, broth or water, onion, basil, garlic, kosher salt, and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. As it boils, use your tongs to turn and toss and stir the ingredients constantly. After 5 minutes, add the chicken and any accumulated juices from the plate to the pan. Continue boiling, tossing, turning, and stirring until the pasta is done to your liking, about another 4 minutes. Taste the pasta and sauce, adjusting salt if necessary.
- Transfer to a dish and garnish with additional torn or sliced basil leaves. Serve, passing the bowl of Parmesan bread crumbs so diners can add as much or little as they like.
*You can substitute 3 cups of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes for the grape or cherry tomatoes if you are feeding someone who doesn't like the texture of fresh tomatoes.
This post was originally published on February 9, 2014.