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Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

This Bruschetta Chicken Pasta is a quick and easy, dizzyingly delicious dinner with an actual cook time of less than 15 minutes!  It’s a hypnotic blend of tangy balsamic, herbaceous basil and aromatic garlic with bright pops of blistered tomatoes and juicy balsamic chicken, bolstered with additional herbs and plenty of Parmesan cheese.  It’s a charming stress-free weeknight dinner that will instantly become a new favorite-it’s definitely one of ours! You can follow the Bruschetta Chicken Pasta recipe as written or add additional veggies such as bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, etc. because at the end of the day, it’s all about the sweet and tangy balsamic, basil, garlic sauce!  Serve this easy chicken pasta recipe with strawberry spinach salad, baked Parmesan asparagus and Parmesan breadsticks for a complete meal the whole family will love!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 1 pound chicken breasts chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti or pasta of choice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup packed basil, chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Balsamic marinade/sauce

Instructions

  • Whisk together the Balsamic Marinade/Sauce ingredients. Transfer 2 tablespoons to a freezer safe bag or bowl with the chicken. Marinate at room temperature for 15-30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions in generously salted water. Remove 1 cup pasta water before draining. Drain and rinse the pasta, then toss with a drizzle the untouched balsamic sauce to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on all sides, but not cooked through, transfer to a plate (it will finish cooking later in the sauce).
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the chicken drippings. Add tomatoes, onions and garlic. Cook until the tomatoes begin to burst, 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the chicken back to the pan along with remaining sauce (not touched by the raw chicken). Simmer until slightly thickened and the chicken is cooked through, 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in fresh basil and Parmesan. Stir in pasta until well coated, adding some reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste.
  • Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and additional basil if desired

Notes

  • Use a large heavy bottom skillet.  A heavy bottom stainless steel skillet will conduct heat the very best which translates into beautifully seared proteins and an evenly cooked dinner.  
  • Chop the chicken large. Error on the side of chopping the chicken into larger pieces so it remains juicy and doesn’t easily overcook.
  • Don’t over-marinate chicken. The balsamic vinegar and lemon juice are highly acidic so you don’t want to marinate the balsamic chicken for too long or the acid can break down the chicken and make it mushy, especially because it is chopped into smaller pieces.  Marinate for four hours at most.
  • Don’t cook chicken at too high of heat.  The honey in the marinade will brown the outside of the chicken quickly, so I suggest using less heat than usual, especially if your stove runs hot. I use medium heat and it works perfectly with a stainless-steel skillet.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta!  I recommend testing your pasta about 2 or 3 minutes before the box recommends – pasta should be al dente – meaning it should still be a little firm in the center/have a “bite” to it. 
  • Adjust to taste. Every bottle of balsamic vinegar is different so it is important to adjust your finished Bruschetta Chicken Pasta to taste. If the chicken pasta tastes too strong, it likely needs to be balanced by some sugar. Instead of honey, which is harder to incorporate into the cooked skillet, I suggest sprinkling the skillet with brown sugar. If the balsamic chicken is too sweet, then add some acid with lemon juice or fruity tang with balsamic vinegar.

Make AHEAD

This Bruschetta Chicken Pasta makes a great make ahead meal because the sauce is oil based instead of dairy based so the pasta stays sleek and smooth.  If you making the pasta specifically to reheat later, take extra care not to overcook the chicken (you may want larger pieces) so it doesn’t taste dry and cook the pasta al dente.

Prep Ahead

You can prepare individual components of this recipe in advance so when it’s dinnertime, the meal comes together in minutes.  
  • Balsamic sauce: whisk the balsamic sauce ingredients together in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days ahead of time WITHOUT the chicken.  
  • Pasta:  cook pasta al dente (don’t overcook!), drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil or a drizzle of balsamic sauce if you’ve prepped it already. Store pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  It will reheat in the sauce.
  • Chicken: cube the chicken and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 
  • Marinate chicken:  add cubed chicken to 2 tablespoons of the balsamic sauce and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours.
  • Aromatics: chop the onions and garlic and store in separate containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
  • Parmesan: grate the Parmesan cheese and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • To store: store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze chicken pasta: transfer pasta to a large freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.  Label and freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat in the microwave: heat for 1 minute then at 30 second intervals as needed. 
  • To reheat on the stove: reheat over medium heat, until warmed through.