When we started this whole foods thing we were sure we would be eating a lot of really mediocre meals. We figured we could just suck it up for 3 months and then decide how we would eat moving forward. But we were pleasantly surprised by how much we still enjoyed what we were eating and decided whole foods could be a way of life and not just an experiment. Most of our meals were still pretty darn good. Sure, there were misses here and there, but it was always like that, so no big change.
And then we had this meal. And we swooned into our plates and declared it the best thing we've eaten since we changed our eating habits. It is so beyond delicious and we have this (or some version of it) about once a week. It lends itself really well to adaptation and often ends up as a "kitchen sink" kind of meal at the end of the week when I'm just trying to use stuff up before it goes bad. I frequently leave out the goat cheese just because I never remember to buy any and we don't miss it, but I know some people like goat cheese like they like oxygen, so have at it. I usually reduce the amount of chicken and increase the amount of veggies, because that's how we roll. I've doubled the red bell pepper, added zucchini and yellow squash, forgotten the basil, added spinach, left out the chicken entirely, etc. I think it would also work really well as a pasta salad but I'm weird about my food and cold pasta freaks me out. It would probably work with rice instead of pasta too.
Also, we've all voted that shaped pasta works best here. The original recipe calls for linguine but we find that all the good stuff falls to the bottom when you use long thin pasta. When you use short, shaped pasta it's not as much of a problem. Also, if I have a rotisserie chicken on hand this meal takes less than 20 minutes!
Balsamic Chicken and Pasta with Fresh CheeseAdapted from Perry's Plate
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t salt
6 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c basil leaves, chiffonade
1-2 c shredded cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken works perfectly here)
1 red bell pepper, cubed
1 c fresh mozzarella, cubed
8-10 oz shaped pasta
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, mix balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and olive oil. Set aside.
Saute bell pepper until tender, about 8 minutes.
Combine cooked pasta, bell peppers, chicken, mozzarella, and basil leaves. Top with dressing and toss. Serve!