Some people start the New Year with resolutions and green smoothies and exercise. That’s all nice. We like green smoothies. Others start the new year with traditions like black eyed peas or hoppin’ John. We’re kicking off 2015 with carbs and cheese and baked caprese pasta.If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to cook more it might be difficult to muddle through the propaganda available in a lot of books and websites that vilify all prepackaged and prepared foods. We’re busy people and there is no reason to avoid certain convenience foods that are meant to make life easier, like roasted or rotisserie chickens, jarred sauce and boxed pasta.
Cooking from scratch is great when you enjoy it and in most cases, tastes better, a perfect fit for special occasions. On a busy weeknight though, you can easily cook a delicious dinner by doctoring up some of your favorite staple ingredients, just purchase the highest quality that you can afford and read the labels so you know what you’re putting in your body.
This recipe takes one of my favorite types of boxed pasta Fusilli, plus a simple marinara sauce with added chicken, mozzarella cheese and basil for a unique twist and extra flavor. Use your favorite pasta shape and sauce and swap the chicken for a different protein, like ground beef or sausage or omit altogether to create a vegetarian version.
- 1 16-ounce box whole wheat pasta
- 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 2-3 medium fresh tomatoes
- 1 25-ounce jar of tomato basil pasta sauce
- 2 cups chopped roasted or poached chicken breast
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Cook pasta according to the directions on the package, for about 8-10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain and place in a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, slice tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Set aside. Add tomato sauce, chicken, and half the basil to the cooked pasta. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Turn the oven on to broil. Place the mixture in greased (or spray with cooking spray) 9x13 dish pan or casserole dish. Add the sliced tomatoes and the sliced cheese. Broil for about 5-7 minutes, until the cheese becomes brown and bubbly. Serve garnished with the remaining chopped basil leaves.