You know that chicken I “roasted” in the slow cooker? Well, one downside of letting something cook for five hours is that by the time it’s ready, you may have lost your enthusiasm for actually eating it. That’s what happened to me the other day—the slow cooker filled the apartment with delicious roast-chicken smells all afternoon, but by dinnertime it just felt too heavy to eat. I wanted something lighter, something livelier (and to be perfectly honest, I was feeling far too lazy to come up with any side dishes—I wanted a one-dish meal).
Harry and I had taken a little stroll around the neighborhood while the chicken was cooking—yet another benefit of the slow cooker: you can leave the house with no fear—and stopped at Savino’s Quality Pasta. It’s our go-to place for cut-to-order pappardelle, so perfect with Little Gram’s Sauce, but that afternoon I was feeling adventurous. While Harry frolicked with the owner’s two little girls (one of whom shares his birthdate, we discovered!), I asked if they ever made short pasta. Sure, the owner said, rigatoni and ishkabibble. Maybe he didn’t say ishkabibble (that’s more likely to come from the pastrami man), but whatever he said, I’d never heard the word before. One look at my puzzled face sent him to the back of the store, and he returned with two pieces of a new-to-me pasta shape. It was a double-helix of sorts, two thick strands of pasta about five inches long, twisted together. The closest cut I can think of is gemelli, only it was longer and looser. It was so perfectly intriguing, I bought a pound immediately. I figured I’d find something to do with it the next night.
All the way home, I thought about that pasta. Even a stop at the Brooklyn Kitchen, where Harry loves to play with the nifty toy kitchen (or feed carrots to Woody, the dog) while I browse, didn’t distract me completely. Which brings us back to the chicken. I fantasized about shredded pieces of breast meat in a light, summery sauce, with just a few vegetables thrown in to liven things up. The dinner fairies whispered in my ear: Artichokes! Sun dried tomatoes! Spinach! Perfect. All three are items in the New Mom’s Pantry, so they were ready to go. I could barely wait the three remaining hours until Harry’s bedtime, when the kitchen would be completely mine again.
As it turns out, this is another dish that’s perfect for harried cooks—parents or not. Assuming you’ve got cooked chicken (and rotisserie is perfect for this), there’s almost no prep; only slicing some garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, and quartering the artichoke hearts. The sauce comes together while the pasta cooks—and with fresh pasta, that’s only six minutes. Six minutes!
Stephen and I both loved this so much, we fought over who’d get to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. I won, but there was enough that he got a small pre-dinner snack the next night, too.
Pasta with Chicken, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
1 pound fresh pasta or ¾ pound dried
a few glugs of olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
10 sun-dried tomato halves, sliced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 large artichoke hearts, quartered
1 ½ cups cooked chicken breast, shredded with two forks
two handfuls baby spinach
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the pasta. Set the timer to undercook it by a minute. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in your largest frying pan (it should be big enough to hold the pasta eventually), and add the garlic and red pepper. When the smell of cooking garlic fills the air, add the sun-dried tomatoes. Let that cook for a minute, stirring, and add the chicken broth. Let it boil for a minute or two, until it’s reduced slightly, and add the artichoke hearts and cooked chicken. When that’s heated through, add the spinach, and stir until spinach leaves wilt. By now the pasta should be done—drain it and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is nearly gone and the pasta has taken on a saucy appearance.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.