I love pasta so much but I rarely eat it because I am so bad at limiting my portions. It is just so damn good! If I am going to splurge on pasta I am going to be certain it is a worthwhile recipe. This one is just that. It is so satisfying, it warms your belly. I used to make this all the time when I entertained in my studio apartment in Dupont Circle over 20 years ago. (OMG, can’t believe it was that long ago. I loved that apartment!) This dish is full of flavor, so creamy, slightly tangy, rich and super hearty so making one big batch feeds many because you don’t need huge portions. (I still however seem to always overstuff myself. Oink!)
- 1 package (1-2 lbs) of boneless chicken tenderloins cut into bite sized pieces. Any amount between 1-2 lbs. will work great. (I like a lot of meat in my pasta so I get the larger package that is around 1.8 lbs but if you get a smaller one closer to 1 lb your pasta will still be amazing it will simply have less meat.)
- 2 8oz packages of mushrooms (I use the baby Bella and shiitake but any you love will work)
- 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (If you can find ones with any Italian herbs or spices added such as rosemary, basil, garlic or oregano get those. If not plain diced tomatoes are just fine. Pictures below of some kinds I have seen in stores.)
- One large white onion chopped into bite sized pieces.
- I 8.5 oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil. (Whole, halved or julienne are all good and if with herbs is great too but not required.)
- 1 small bottle of Italian balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
NOTE: I buy the Good Seasons Italian seasoning packets (seen below) and make a bottle according to the carafe instructions by adding balsamic vinegar, olive oil and water in the amounts it tells you but you can buy any pre-made dressing that you like.
- 1 small bunch of fresh basil chopped
- 1 4 oz log of goat cheese. Plain or one with Italian herbs both work great but do not buy any that have honey or fruit flavors.
- 1 lb (16 oz) box/bag of fussili pasta or whatever pasta shape you prefer. I like fussili because its coil shapes grab the sauce and other ingredients so nicely so every bite gets a lot of flavor.
- Salt and pepper (to taste).
- It helps to have a wide, deep pot that has a cover to cook your chicken and sauce in AND a deep pot to cook your pasta in that I use to mix everything together at the end. (Pics of both are below for reference.)
- 1 extra packet of dry Italian dressing seasoning package to use instead of salt/pepper (as seen in pics below).
- Separate your sun-dried tomatoes from the oil they are in but keep the oil to use in a minute. Dice up the sun dried tomatoes into bite sized pieces unless they are already julienned, if so only cut if you feel they are too long to eat mixed into the pasta. Set aside after cutting.
- Chop your mushrooms slightly so they are in bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Cut your chicken tenderloins into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Coat your pan with a small amount of the sun dried tomato oil that you poured from the jar and add your onions. Cook over medium heat until they start to become translucent.
- Add your chicken, about 1/4 cup of your balsamic dressing, one of your cans of tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper OR a big pinch/spoonful of your dry Italian seasoning packet. (I find this has a more rounded Italian seasoned flavor.) Stir well and cover to cook chicken for about 10-12 minutes over medium/high. (Occasionally stir and check.)
- When chicken is close to fully cooked or done add the following and stir everything together well:
• sun-dried tomatoes
• 2nd can of tomatoes
- Cover and simmer of med/low to cook mushrooms.
- While that is cooking begin boiling your water for your pasta in the deepest pot you have. (You will use this pot when pasta is done to mix everything together.)
- Taste your chicken/sauce and add salt/ppr as needed OR add more of the dry Italian dressing seasoning packet instead of adding salt and pepper if you like. You can also add more of your sun-dried tomato oil OR more balsamic vinaigrette dressing if you want more acidity (tang) and/or liquid.
- Remove your chicken mixture from the heat and set aside.
- Cook your pasta.
- While pasta is cooking chop your basil and set it aside to garnish your dish when it is ready to serve.
- When pasta is done set aside 1 cup of the pasta water and then strain your pasta from the rest of the water and return it to your deep pot and pour your chicken and mushroom sauce in.
- Cut up 1/2 of your goat cheese log into slices and add them into your pot with everything.
- Mix everything together. Your goat cheese should melt well into everything from the hot pasta and warm sauce creating a very creamy texture. (SO YUMMY) If you want it more creamy add as much of the goat cheese as you like to get the consistency you prefer. (NOTE: I like to save a little cheese to crumble on top when I serve it.)
- Taste and add whatever you feel you need to get it just right for you. (More balsamic dressing, or more seasoning, maybe more cheese or maybe it is already perfect?) If for some reason it has too much seasoning you can add some of the pasta water that you set aside a little at a time, tasting after stirring it in to tone it down.
- Pour into a large serving dish. Crumble some small pieces of the goat cheese on top and then finally garnish with your chopped basil.