If you have been reading my blog lately, you probably think I have got to weigh at least 500 pounds by now with all the cookies and cupcakes I’ve been posting. But in all honestly, I try to eat a very healthy and balanced diet. The unhealthy food just seems to make it on the blog more often for some reason :) I think it’s about time to share another healthy dinner option with you, so we can take a much needed break from the sugary mess that has been Coloring the City for the past week.
This recipe is for Warm Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad that I got from an old, family friend. It checks off all the boxes for meal requirements: healthy, easy to make and delicious. Recipe is as follows:
Warm Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 pound of whole wheat pasta
- 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pinches cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
Wash the chicken breast and pat dry with a paper towel, then set aside. In a bowl, mix the all ingredients for the balsamic marinade. Place all the chicken breasts into the bowl and make sure they are completely submerged in the marinade. Pre-heat oven to 425. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Quickly brown the chicken on both sides. This should only take about 3 minutes per side. Place in a baking dish and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink when you cut into it.
While the chicken is baking, bring water to a boil then cook the pasta. Strain the pasta when it is soft and set aside. Add the chopped pepper, tomatoes and asparagus to the pan that you used for the chicken. You may need to add another tbsp of olive oil. Cook until veggies are soft. In a large bowl, combine the pasta and veggies. Make one more batch of the Balsamic Marinade, and pour over the pasta, and toss to combine. When the chicken is done, cut it into bit-sized chunks and add to the pasta. Serve warm.
This recipe is great because it is very versatile. Don’t like asparagus? Use broccoli or snap peas instead. I like to use less pasta and more veggies than the recipe calls for to get a double dose of green. I’m also 95% sure that you could use the marinade that you made for your chicken on the pasta, but I never take chances with raw chicken, so I made another batch to use as dressing. Please let me know if you try the recipe, and if you tweak it to make it your own! I’m always open for new ways to change recipes.
I was feeling like I needed A LOT of vegetables when I had the balsamic chicken pasta salad the other night, so I also made a side of boiled kale. The picture is not at all appetizing, I know, but I promise that it tastes wonderful. I only add salt and pepper when boiling kale because it has so much spicy flavor of it’s own, it really doesn’t need anything else.
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 3 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
Bring the water to a boil. Coarsely chop the kale, removing the bottom, thick part of the stem. Add the kale to the water with the salt and pepper. Let the kale boil in the water until the remaining stems can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, about 15 minutes. Remove from water and serve with a splash of fresh lemon juice squeezed.
If you are not really into eating greens, I would recommend this recipe for preparing kale because it is so delicious, you might forget that kale is a vegetable. However, most of the nutrients boil out of the kale into the water while it cooks. To get the full nutritional value, you might consider saving the water and using it in smoothies or home made juices. It will have a very faint kale taste but it will most likely be overpowered by whatever else you choose to put into your smoothie. This is a trick I learned from my health coach months ago, and have been doing it ever since. The best way to cook kale, or spinach or even collard greens to retain all the nutrients is by steaming it. If you are looking for a veggie side that is extremely healthy, steaming is by far the way to go.
So there is you go. A good, old-fashioned dose of vegetables to brighten your week!