Chicken Pignoli Pasta

As it turns out, I can also cook inside the house. This is a go-to recipe at home when we’re looking for some lighter Italian fare. The flavor profile is a little like piccata. The original recipe came from a former employer and was made with shrimp. But since the wife is not really a fan of shrimp, it got updated at home to include chicken. This recipe is quick (since most of the ingredients are ready to use) and usually leaves leftovers for lunch the next day. With this recipe, I tend to throw ingredients into the pan by handful, rather than measure.

Ingredients:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb box pasta (we tend to use whole wheat penne or rotini, but have been known to use Angel Hair or Spaghetti in a pinch)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 small jar of capers
Pine nuts
Italian seasoning
Parmesan reggiano cheese (there is no such thing as anything else)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (substitute shrimp if you prefer)
Salt
Getting setup:
1. Set a pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to directions.
2. Go once around the pan with the Olive oil. Turn the range to medium heat
3. Rub olive oil on the chicken, sprinkle with salt, shake on Italian seasoning.
4. Cook chicken over medium heat.
5. When chicken is cooked, remove from heat and move to cutting board.
Shredding the chicken:
Take two forks, rounded ends back to back. Hold the chicken with one fork and pull with the other. This feels a little odd at first and you probably won’t feel like you’re making any progress at first. You’ll develop a feel for this. And it will make its way into other chicken recipes. I do admit I have to give Giada credit for this technique.
   
Prepare sauce:
1. Go once around the pan with more olive oil.
2. Add minced garlic, stir for 30 seconds
3. Add all the artichoke hearts (you can separate them with a wooden spatula) and about 2/3 of the capers (and all of the caper juice). Add chicken back to mixture.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer
3. For the last couple minutes, add pine nuts and stir. Add a little salt to bring out the other flavors.
Putting it all together:
1. Drain the pasta, return the pasta back to the pot.
2. Add the sauce, chicken and pine nuts to the pot.
3. Mix thoroughly.
4. Serve. Grate fresh parmesan reggiano cheese

Sometimes I’ll toss in some sun dried tomatoes or a drained can of diced tomatoes to add color. You can also use some lemon juice or zest to make it even more piccata like. This pairs especially well with a sweet Italian white wine. We like Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, because it’s one of the wines we drank while we were in Rome.

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