Weeknight Shorts: One-Pot Wonder

Summer is great, but it can sometimes be a challenge to get all of the things you want done and get a hearty dinner on the table, especially in this odd summer's basically gone, but not officially time of the year. Too often, takeout or frozen pizza are tempting options. No more! What you really need are a few one-pot meal ideas. I'll start you out with this one:

Feast your eyes on a bowl filled with tender pasta swimming in a creamy tomato-barbecue sauce and hosting chunks of chicken and bits of thick-cut bacon. It takes about a half hour to make and will leave you with extra time after dinner because there aren't many dishes to do after making it. In fact, if you cut the meat and veggies in advance, you can probably cut your prep time for this one to about 20 minutes. During a busy summer weekday, that's golden!

You'll note I call for some red pepper flakes in this. Before you decide that will make the sauce too spicy, give it a whirl. All but the most heat-averse among us will find the little bite it adds to the sauce perfect. Besides, with a bunch of creamy cheese, it helps keep things from being too one-dimensional on your plate or in your bowl. I also used green onions because that's what I had on hand. You could use regular onions, too, although I do like the color the green ones brought to this dish.

Usually I toss in a few ideas about what you might serve a dish with when it's dinner time. This time around, I'm happy to say that this one really lives up to its name. Spoon it into bowls and dig in! A glass of iced tea might be nice for washing it all down. If you must have something else along with it, consider breadsticks or rolls for sopping up the delicious sauce that gets made as the noodles boil and you stir in the barbecue sauce and cheese. Otherwise, just smile at the tiny pile of dishes that's left when everyone's done!

BBQ Chicken & Bacon Pasta

  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth - I used smoked chicken broth
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb. dry pasta - I used penne
  • 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese - I used a combination of cheddar and jack cheeses

In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is browned. Halfway through cooking, add the chicken and continue cooking until it is all cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green onion and garlic; cook an additional minute.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pepper flakes, salt, and pasta and bring back to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 5 minutes. Stir, then replace cover and cook another 5 minutes. Stir and continue cooking 4-5 minutes uncovered, until the noodles are cooked.

Stir in the barbecue sauce and cheese; cook 1-2 minutes more until heated through.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes