Who doesn’t like pasta? It’s quick to prepare, tasty, and one of the best starches to incorporate in vegetarian meals. It’s always my go-to when I don’t feel like labouring in the kitchen. Plus, it’s only with pasta that I can cook truly good, but effortless vegan dishes.
This recipe may not be vegetarian, but it takes seven to ten minutes to cook the pasta, and around thirty minutes to cook the entire meal – who would say no to that?
How to make the meal
Tip: Start by boiling water in an electric kettle for cooking your pasta. Make sure your chicken breast is thawed and ready to cook. These two details will shorten the cooking time.
- Medium sized onion.
- Medium sized green bell pepper.
- Two garlic cloves.
- One leek.
- Salt/ black pepper.
- Mixed dried herbs.
- Crushed chilli flakes.
- An assortment of veggies of your liking (carrot, broccoli, green beans, peas, cauliflower, sugar snap peas).
Tip: If you’re into colour, you can substitute the green bell pepper with a yellow or red bell pepper. But be warned; the colourful varieties usually come with a much higher price. Make sure that at least one of your chosen veggies is sweet. Pasta dishes usually taste better with a little sweetness.
- Pour about three tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan or wide-rimmed pot. Your pan must be large enough to accommodate two potions of the cooked pasta plus your veggies.
- Cut your onion/ green bell pepper/ leek in half, thinly slice and throw in the pan.
- Grate the garlic into the pan.
- Sprinkle in a little of the dried herbs/ crushed chillies and place the pan on a stove plate at medium high heat.
- Thinly slice your other vegetables (carrot, broccoli, cauliflower etc). Chop the green beans into about 1cm pieces. The peas and sugar snap peas are thrown in the pan as they are.
- Make sure to check on your pan. You want the onions to sweat, not to brown.
- Throw the rest of your vegetables in the pan. Immediately after, sprinkle the black pepper/ salt to taste. The salt will draw the water out of the vegetables, allowing them to cook in their own juices. Reduce the heat (go down 1 or 2 levels on the stove dial) and close the pan to prevent too much evaporation.
- Check on the vegetables every few minutes or so, tasting to see if they are cooked. They should be cooked, yet firm and retain their colour. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes for them to reach this point.
Tip: For my veggies, I use a handful of each. A handful of green beans, enough broccoli to fit in my palm, and one carrot. This is for two portions. You can add more or less as you see fit.
- 200g of macaroni.
- Whilst your veggies finish cooking, pour the water from the kettle in a pot and reheat on the stove until it boils. Add about a half teaspoon of salt (for 1 litre of water).
- Throw the macaroni in the boiling water and cook as instructed on the packaging.
- Drain the macaroni and throw it in the cooked vegetables. Place the pan on the stove and stir everything together for a few seconds. The objective is not to cook the pasta again, but to allow it to absorb the juices from the vegetables. Remove the pan from the heat when everything is sufficiently mixed.
Tip: DO NOT overcook your pasta. You will be throwing it in the pan after it’s done, plus who likes mushy pasta? I’d recommend sticking to the lower end of the cooking time. For example, if the cooking instructions state 7 – 10 minutes, cook it for 7 minutes. Occasionally stir the macaroni as you cook it, otherwise it could become a sticky mess. Of the typically available pasta’s, I’ve found Fatti’s and Moni’s to be the best. Their pastas are more firm, less starchy (and less sticky), tastier and more filling. Plus, they have a whole-wheat alternative – I always get this when I find it in the supermarket.
The chicken breast
- About 200g chicken breast, flattened.
- Salt/ black pepper.
- Balsamic vinegar.
- Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar. Leave to marinate.
- Pour about two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan, and place the pan on a stove plate at medium high heat. Allow the oil to heat up for a few minutes, but not smoke.
- Fry the chicken, 3 – 5 minutes on each side. If it browns too quickly, reduce the heat, but don’t reduce the time.
If you do everything right, your meal should be ready in around thirty – forty minutes.