Once upon a time during my early years of teaching, I would prepare this recipe on a school night solely for the purpose of having leftovers to bring with me for lunch at school the next day. My first teaching teammate loved this dish, and I always brought enough to share with her. I visited my original “teacher wife” last week. The pasta dish came up during my visit, and she talked about how it is one of her grandson’s favorite meals. I had not thought about this recipe in years.
The dish is an easy weeknight meal, can be cooked in one pot, and works well reheated the next day. It is also a good alternative to one of my other favorite pasta dishes– Pasta with Pesto and Peas.
- 2 T. pine nuts, toasted
- 1 bunch of broccoli cut into bite sized pieces (~3 cups)
- 1 family sized package of cheese filled tortellini (~20 oz.)
- 1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 1 – 1 1/2 c. pesto (purchased or homemade)
- grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the broccoil and cook until crisp-tender, ~3-5 minutes. Remove broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon (save the broccoli water!) and drain in a colander. Set to the side.
- Return broccoli water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to package directions. Drain well and set to the side.
- Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
- In the empty pot that cooked the broccoli and tortellini, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook through, ~3-4 minutes. Remove some of the excess cooking juice before continuing.
- Add the broccoli and tortellini to the chicken, tossing until heated through. Remove from heat and add the pesto to taste. Stir gently until the tortellini, chicken, and broccoli are coated with pesto.
- Garnish with pine nuts and grated Parmesan. Serve hot.
- Can be refrigerated and reheated in the microwave. It is a great teacher lunch or meal at the office.
Yes, we have returned to the school schedule along with many families across the country. It is the time of year when I go from minimal attempts at making my family dinner to hardly ever. I would be OK with cereal and peanut butter every night; TheRoomDad is not. It is perplexing to him the lack of interest I have for preparing food during the school year. Preparing meals is such a time suck, and I am not up for it after a day of teaching.
There is a quick meal that I will cook when I have the ingredients. My kids love the recipe I have for Italian Chicken Soup. It is a lot like chicken noodle soup but with a twist. Any time we have a leftover cooked chicken breast, there is a good chance I am making Italian Chicken Soup for an easy weeknight dinner.
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 T. dried basil
- 2 t. fennel seeds
- 1/4 t. dried crushed red pepper
- 6 c. canned chicken broth
- 2 medium zucchini, diced (optional)
- ~9-oz. pasta (egg noodles, mini penne, mini bow ties, macaroni…)
- 1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, diced
- Heat oil in large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add red bell pepper, onion, carrot, garlic basil, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper. Saute until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add broth.
- Cover pot and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add zucchini (if using), cover, and simmer about 5 minutes.
- Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Add pasta and boil until pasta is tender.
- Add chicken and cook until heated through about 1 more minute.
- Season soup to taste with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls, and serve.
- You can replace the zucchini with yellow squash (and probably celery, but I have not tried it). Red bell pepper can be replaced with green bell pepper.
- The original recipe called for cheese ravioli, but my family likes non-stuffed pasta better.
- The recipes makes 4-5 servings, so we usually don’t have many leftovers.