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Chicken, Feta, and Olive Pasta

This meal was a happy accident. A delicious happy accident. I was faced with a series of random things in the refrigerator that weren’t going to last much longer (and I’ve been trying really hard to be good about not buying too much and not letting things go bad). So, a refrigerator mash-up-meal was on the menu. After tasting it Adam’s first comment was about how good it was and my wise-ass response was, “Well, enjoy it because you’re never going to have it again. I was just getting rid of leftovers.”

I am happy to say that I/we eat those words (and this meal) with relative frequency now. Luckily the component parts are relatively ubiquitous in my meal planning so they are easy to have on hand and use in other dishes. If you haven’t made a roasted chicken recently and don’t have a rotisserie chicken on hand either the best pantry based option for a substitute is two cans of white tuna. In fact, Adam likes it better because it has more of a salad nicoise flavor.

And, of course, it’s a reasonably healthy meal if you aren’t a carbo-phobe. All things in moderation and all… Besides, I just can’t resist a one pot meal.

Chicken, Feta, and Olive Pasta

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium to large red onion roughly chopped
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 ozĀ  kalamata olives (about 20-22 medium large olives)
8 oz shredded cooked chicken (I have used a rotisserie chicken or leftovers from my roast chicken)*
1/2 lb short pasta (I generally use cavatappi)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 ladles of pasta water

Turn on low heat under a pot of water for the pasta.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and when hot add the onion and saute over medium heat until the onion has softened; about 10 minutes.

Add in the can of tomatoes and stir to combine. Then reduce heat to the low setting.

Roughly chop the olives and add them to the pan. Allow the sauce to simmer on low for 15 minutes.

At this point I like to take a fork and smush up the chunks of tomato that are left to make it smoother.

Then add the chicken and mix to combine. Once the chicken is warmed through you can either leave the heat on low and continue to completion with the recipe or you can turn off the heat and the dish can wait for an hour or so before being finished.

To finish the dish turn the heat up to high under the pot of water. When the water boils cook the pasta according to the package directions and do not drain the pasta water when the pasta has finished cooking. Using a slotted spoon transfer the cooked pasta into the large skillet and stir.

Add the crumbled feta and stir again. One at a time, add 2 ladles of cooking water into the pan while stirring. This will create a creaminess as the starchy water is absorbed and the feta begins to melt.

Serve immediately.

* the chicken is optional if you’d like to make this a vegetarian dish

Probably serves 4 with a salad on the side.