Chicken Piccata Pasta
Man, I love pasta. I eat pasta at least three times a week, and not just with red sauce. I can take anything in my refrigerator and make some kind of pasta-based dinner around it. And recently, while flipping through Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Italian, I decided that nearly all of the recipes in this book would be more interesting if they were turned into pasta dishes. So I decided to start with Chicken Piccata.
Giada’s Chicken Piccata recipe is in the chapter on Cutlets. I’m assuming it’s meant to be served as a big slab of meat, maybe with a side of polenta and some kind of vegetable. But as you can probably tell if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, I’m not really a big-slab-of-meat kind of girl. I tend to prefer meals in which all of the important food components can be mixed together and served in a bowl, which is probably why pasta is such a favorite. So I decided to add some zucchini to the mix and turn this big-slab-of-meat meal into a quick, easy, and tasty pasta dinner.
Chicken Piccata is traditionally served as a pan-cooked piece of chicken with a lemon and caper sauce. It didn’t take much work to cut the chicken into small pieces and saute it instead of cooking it whole, and the sauce is very simply made of three ingredients: chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers. Dredging the chicken pieces in flour is a key step, and helps make the sauce silky and thick. And throwing a little sauteed zucchini and onion in makes this a well-rounded meal. I just don’t feel right if I don’t have a vegetable at every meal.
I also added a little something that perhaps makes this less Italian and more Mediterranean:
I recently ordered a few herbs and spices from Penzey’s and was very pleasantly surprised when they sent a free sample of their Greek Seasoning blend. And the free sample was, as you can see, very generous. It completely justified the cost of shipping, and I was pretty stoked with the other things I ordered, too. And no, no one paid me to wax rhapsodic about Penzey’s. But if you’re living in an isolated place like I am, with fairly limited spice selections in your local supermarket, navigating Penzey’s admittedly annoying website and paying about $5 for shipping is more than worth it.
Anyway, I added a hefty pinch or two of this seasoning mix to the flour before dredging the chicken, and it added just a little something extra to the final dish. If you don’t have Greek seasoning, you can mix in a small pinch of oregano, garlic powder, and marjoram. Or you can leave it out entirely and the dish will not suffer.
I also had the sauteed zucchini leftover from a previous dinner, which leads me to a helpful hint for those of you out there cooking for one: If you don’t want an entire zucchini for dinner, go ahead and cook up the whole thing. Store half of the cooked zucchini in the refrigerator and use it in another dish later in the week. I find half a zucchini tends to keep a little better if it’s cooked than if it’s just wilting away in the crisper, and the olive oil-y onion-y flavors just get more delicious over time.
This recipe made for a big dinner for one person. You could serve it with a salad and a lovely baguette it would be a light dinner for two.
Chicken Piccata Pasta
Adapted from Giada’s Everyday Italian
- 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
- about 1/4 c. flour
- salt and pepper
- a big pinch of Greek seasoning, or smaller pinches of dried oregano, garlic powder, and marjoram
- 2 T. olive oil, divided
- 1/2 zucchini, sliced
- 1/2 a small white onion, diced
- 1/2 T. butter
- 1/2 c. chicken stock
- juice from half a lemon
- 2 T. capers, with a little liquid from the jar
- a small handful of chopped fresh parsley
- about a cup of uncooked gemilli pasta (or farfalle or shells or any other small pasta shape you like)
Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and seasonings, and toss the chicken pieces with the flour mixture so each piece is lightly coated. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and saute until it’s soft and slightly translucent, about two or three minutes. Add the zucchini slices, and a bit of salt and pepper. Saute the zucchini and onion until the zucchini is soft and golden, then remove from the skillet and set aside.
Add the pasta to the boiling water—The pasta will take about as long to cook as the chicken.
Heat the remaining olive oil and the butter in the same skillet you used for the zucchini. Once it’s hot, add the flour coated chicken pieces. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until they are browned and almost entirely cooked through. Then stir in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Let the chicken pieces and stock cook together, stirring occasionally, until the stock is almost entirely reduced and has created a slightly thick, silky sauce.
Drain the pasta and stir it and the zucchini mixture in with the chicken in the skillet. Add the lemon juice and capers and cook for another minute or two. Salt to taste, and serve garnished with parsley (which I believe I completely forgot in my hunger).