February 11, 2015

One Pot Spinach and Tomato Pasta

I'm going to be completely geeky for a sec (though really, when do I ever stop?). I bought myself and early birthday present in the form of a video game called Life is Strange. That title may or may not sound familiar to you, as there was recently some controversy when every publisher except for Square Enix told the developers that they wouldn't touch the game unless they changed the protagonist from female to male.

But I'm not here to talk about that (although I could give a good long rant), even though I'm a little happy that it happened. Not publishers going, "no, girls have cooties!" but the fact that it gave the game such early publicity. I've recently gotten into adventure games, and I've been waiting for a more interactive title. Adventure games have the tendency to feel a little bit passive, but Life is Strange promises choices that have real consequences to the story, plus the power to reverse time that will probably lead to a kind of butterfly effect. (The first time Max reverses time, she was taking a picture of a butterfly. Subtle, devs, real subtle).

I'm not pleased with the fact that it's being released in chapters, though. That's a new thing that's been happening with adventure games lately, and while it makes a certain amount of sense for indie games, a big publisher like Square Enix should be able to release the whole game in one fell swoop. The first chapter is mostly exposition with a couple of fairly basic fetch quests, and even though I'm a pretty slow gamer (I like to explore and talk to everyone), I finished it in one sitting. Still, I'm excited to play the next chapter and see how my choices effect the rest of the game.
Anyway, that concludes my geeky update for today. I was just really excited about that game. Now we can move on to the stuff you care about: the pasta.

Do you ever notice that there are a lot of recipes out there that claim to be one pot recipes, but then you read the ingredients and it will say, "8 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained," or "1 cup cooked white rice." Umm, no. If I have to have the pasta or rice already cooked, then I have to use a second pot to do that cooking, ergo, you are not a one pot recipe so go sit in the corner of shame.

That's not to say that there aren't actual one pot recipes on the interwebz, but then these imposters will show up while I'm looking for a real recipe and they'll make me so angry that I ragequit and just end up making a bowl of pasta in the microwave, like you do.

This recipe, however, is a real one-pot recipe. Or technically, a one skillet recipe, since I didn't actually make it in a pot. The first time that I made it was during snowmaggedon, which while being a lot less snowmaggedony than predicted, was still not weather I wanted to go out in. I had spent most of the day making brownies and then realized I had nothing prepped for actual food. I searched the fridge and found some chicken I had defrosted, some cherry tomatoes, half a carton of chicken broth, and some frozen spinach. In the pantry, I had half a box of rotini. I threw all of these things into my big skillet and it turned into this super delicious pasta and crazy easy pasta dish.
This time I made it with canned tomatoes and fresh spinach. I like it better with the canned tomatoes because fresh tomatoes take longer to cook down, but honestly you could go either way. With the spinach, I prefer using the fresh just so I don't have to defrost the frozen. It's all about the priorities.

The key to this dish is in its simplicity. The sauce is no more than tomatoes and chicken broth, with a little parmesan stirred in at the end. The pasta cooks directly in the sauce and in turn, the starch from the pasta helps thicken the sauce. The spinach cooks alongside the pasta. There's onion and garlic in there for flavoring, but if you want the dish to come together even faster, you can always use onion and garlic powder. You could even skip the chicken (and use vegetable broth) for a vegetarian dish.
One Pot Spinach and Tomato Pasta
Yield: 3-4 servings

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
8 oz. rotini pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and heat until it starts to bubble. Stir in the pasta and spinach, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the pasta is tender. Stir in the cheese and season to taste.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Serve hot.

Recipe by Kim

Things you may need:

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links*