I have a small herb planter hanging on our fence. Having it inspires me to be more creative about using herbs in cooking. Plus, it's so convenient to have the herbs right outside, ready for picking. And, having an herb garden makes me feel more "Martha Stewart-ish." Right now, I have 3 kinds of basil, italian parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, and mint.
The picture above showes some italian parsley, globe basil and small leaf basil that I picked for our dinner. I got home late so it had to be a quick one. So I looked at what I had on hand and this is the dish I came up with.
Penne with Chicken
450 grams penne pasta, cooked and drained
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
5 strips bacon, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
200-250 grams sliced mushrooms
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
8-12 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1-2 cups baby spinach
a handful of parsley and basil, chopped
freshly cracked black pepper
grated cheese for garnish (I had some Manchego so I used that)
1. Cook bacon until crisp. Set aside. Drain most of bacon fat from pan, reserving about 1 tbsp.
2. Season chicken breasts with steak seasoning and pan fry in same pan. This takes about 5 minutes per side. I cook the chicken until the outside is very brown. I find this add so much to the final flavor of the dish.
3. Remove chicken to a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Set aside
4. In the same pan, add olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Saute until garlic is soft.
5. Add mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes. Cook til veggies are soft but not mushy.
6. Add in chopped herbs, sliced chicken plus all the juices, and bacon bits. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add pasta, baby spinach and cheese. Toss until everything comes together. The heat of the pasta will wilt the spinach.