Pasta dishes are perfect for weekday entertaining because they are quick, versatile, and can actually be downright beautiful without a lot of work. This recipe is a perfect example of just that. Tender fettuccine gets tossed with seasoned chicken, fresh tomatoes, and a garlic-butter sauce. Then, fresh mozzarella gets added and the pan gets a few minutes under the broiler to melt the cheese and everything gets sprinkled with toasted walnuts and fresh basil plus a drizzle of a glaze made from balsamic vinegar.
But, as is often the case with my recipes, this one is highly tweakable. Cut the chicken (not not the spices) out to get yourself a vegetarian version to serve. Sub gluten free pasta into the mix if you need to avoid that for yourself or your guests. While I love what the nuts bring to the dish, they can be skipped if preferred. Same goes for the balsamic glaze, though I add it to so many things! And do yourself a favor and after tossing the pasta with the sauce, tomatoes, and (optional) chicken, grab a pair of kitchen tongs and gently grab some of the pasta and swirl it in the pan. Repeat this until you have 6-8 pasta swirls in the pan before you add the cheese. It just looks pretty and is very helpful when serving the pasta too!
This dish is a meal on its own, but you can add a side salad or garlic bread. Me? I add a glass of chilled white wine and call it the end of a very good day!
- 16 oz. dried fettuccine pasta
- 1.5 pounds cooked chicken - chopped (I used rotisserie chicken)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 12 oz. fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I used a variety of chopped large and halved cherry tomatoes)
- 8 oz. sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup fresh basil chopped
- ⅓ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
- Balsamic glaze
Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions.
While the pasta is boiling, toss the chopped chicken with the salt, smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil together; set aside.
In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the butter, seasoned chicken, and tomatoes and cook together for 5 minutes or until the butter is entirely melted, the tomatoes are softened, and the chicken is warmed through.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan; toss well to coat. If desired, use a pair of tongs to turn the pasta into multiple bundles in the pan. Add a slice of fresh mozzarella over each bundle or evenly spaced over the top of the pasta. Broil the pasta under the broiler for 4-5 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the chopped fresh basil and toasted walnuts. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve immediately.
- Yields: 4-6 servings
- Preparation Time: 30 minutes