One of my favorite dinner recipes to make in my dorm is this delicious feta-balsamic combination. It’s not too difficult to make, and takes about 20-30 minutes total. This recipe serves four.
- 1 box of pasta
- 2 chicken breasts or 4 thin filets
- 3-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, oregano
- 2 garlic cloves or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
- 8oz (1 bag) of fresh spinach
- 1 cup feta cheese
- Parmesan cheese, as desired
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for topping
- First, boil water for pasta. Make sure to add a pinch of salt in the water. The pasta can be cooked while the rest of the dish is being prepared, which will take about 15-20 minutes. I’d choose a short pasta, but whatever you’d like! (Penne, Cavatappi, Rigatoni)
2. Begin with a large saucepan. It’s best to have a deep pan to combine all the ingredients, including the pasta at the end, but any stovetop pan will work.
3. Coat the pan in a light layer of extra virgin olive oil – about 3 tablespoons. If you have garlic cloves, they can be finely minced and added to the pan with the oil. If not, garlic powder can be added in later.
4. Place in your chicken breasts, filets or tenders. For 4 servings, I halved 4 thinly sliced filets. Season them with a pinch of salt, pepper and oregano. If you don’t have any fresh garlic, this is when you can use garlic powder instead. Give the chicken a generous coating of garlic. Fresh is always best, but the powder is fine.
5. Sauté the chicken for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium-high. Turn them over once or twice to allow them to evenly cook through.
6. While the chicken is cooking, chop up your tomatoes. Small, cherry tomatoes are best because they’re sweet! I used a mix of yellow and red cherry tomatoes, and they were delicious. Cut the tomatoes in halves so that you have about a cup of tomatoes.
7. Once your chicken is almost done, add in your tomatoes and one 8oz bag of fresh spinach. Add in about 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, depending on preference.
8. Cover the pan and let simmer on medium-low for at least 5 minutes. Once the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes are softened, you can add in your already cooked pasta and mix it together. If you don’t have a big enough pan to combine, then simply add your chicken and veggie mixture on top of your pasta.
9. Once the pasta is mixed in with the other ingredients, add in your feta. This is important to add last so that it doesn’t all melt. We want those big, crumbly feta pieces to complement the dish’s sweet flavor. You can also add in grated or shredded parmesan cheese, which will melt into the dish.
10. Mix it all up! Serve momentarily after adding in the feta cheese.
11. Make sure to add a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar as a topping too! A lot of the balsamic simmers out while cooking, so a little extra on each individual plate will bring out that flavor and allow you add as much as you prefer. This really is a key ingredient to the dish, so make sure to give it a try.
This dish is one of the healthier pasta options I’ve stumbled upon. It doesn’t include any heavy cream or milk like many other cheesy dishes do. The olive oil and balsamic base has a lighter finish that leaves you feeling less dense.
It pairs well with white wine, soft bread, olive oil and red grapes.
Want to see more Italian recipes?
Check out Recipes: Traditional Italian Cooking in Florence.
Psssst… it’s got an appetizer, dinner AND dessert.
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