Baked Chicken Parm over Pasta with Olives + Broccoli Rabe
Why we love it:
- 1 package Rotelli Pasta (any pasta will work - but we like twisty for this dish)
- 11⁄4 pounds Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless)
- 3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt (divided)
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper (divided)
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano (or Italian seasoning)
- 1 15-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes (or diced - we will use 1/2 can for this recipe)
- 2 cloves Garlic (minced and divided)
- 1 cup Fresh Mozzarella
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1⁄2 Onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 bunch Broccoli Rabe (washed)
- 1 cup Kalamata Olives (pitted)
- 1⁄2 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated - plus more to taste)
- 1 Lemon
1. PASTA WATER
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add enough salt to make it “salty like the sea” - at least a Tablespoon or two.
Boil pasta to al dente, according to package instructions.
When the pasta is done - carefully scoop out 1 1/2 cups of the boiling liquid and set aside before draining the pasta.
The hot pasta can wait in the colander (don’t rinse it!) until you’re ready for it. Return the pot to the stove for later, no need to wash it first.
Heat oven to high broil. Are your chicken breasts huge? For 1 ¼ chicken, you should have 4 pieces. If you have fewer than that and 4 diners, cut one in half, mimicking the natural shape of the breast - cut it on a bit of an angle into 2 pieces.
Place chicken on a lined baking sheet, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or italian seasoning) on both top and bottom. Evenly spread chicken out on the pan.
Place chicken on the lowest rack in the oven and cook for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, open the can of tomatoes and measure out about ½ of the can into a small bowl. Stir in ¼ tsp salt, pinch of black pepper and ½ of the of minced garlic.
Slice the mozzarella into ¼” thick slabs. After 8 minutes, pull the chicken out of the oven and spoon the sauce over top – we like to keep it a little thicker in the center so you can see the edges of the meat, but you could also use the completely smothered with sauce method.
Top each piece with as much mozzarella you like. Return to the oven on the top rack this time, and broil until the chicken is cooked through and cheese is browned and bubbly - about 4-6 more minutes. Keep your eye on it though!
While the chicken is cooking, let’s finish the pasta. In the pan you cooked the pasta in, add 3 Tablespoons olive oil and turn on to medium heat.
Slice your onion half into thin rings, thin as you can go. Add them to the pot with the reserved clove of minced garlic and add a pinch of salt, stir.
Wash the broccoli rabe. Unless it’s from a farmer’s market or really dirty, you can most likely leave the band around the bunch while you wash it under cold water. Shake a bit to dry, but some clinging water is actually good!
Trim off the bottoms of the stems. Cut in 3” long pieces - probably 2 or 3 cuts for the entire bunch. Open and drain the olives. When the onions look soft and just lightly golden, add the broccoli rabe and stir with tongs or a spatula.
Within about 3 minutes, the leaves will look wilted and bright. At this time, add the pasta back to the pot and toss to coat.
Add in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, ¼ tsp of salt, the olives and zest your lemon over the pot then add the lemon juice as well. Bring to a boil, and stir while the water cooks off a bit. You should be able to see it thicken up.
After about 1-2 minutes of boiling, taste it - does it need more salt? pepper? - turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese in (reserving just a little spoonful to garnish the plate). Toss to coat.
Serve a big delicious pile of pasta in the center of each plate and top with a chicken breast. Sprinkle a little parmesan over everything to serve.