This is what to have for dinner if you are feeling like a fractious five year old. Or possibly what to make for dinner if you have a fractious five year old. It is not fancy or complex. It is simple and comforting. There is nothing unexpected or deep about it. Just a nice simple chicken and pasta casserole. It would be great to have for dinner if you've had a bad day.
If, for example, you'd spent a solid 10 minutes hyperventilating this morning because when you walked to where you'd parked your car, it WASN'T THERE. And you realized that not only was your car GONE, but there was NO ONE you could call for help, because your husband was in New York, or Boston, or somewhere in between New York and Boston, and your parents were in Canada and you know NO ONE in the stupid city you live in. And you couldn't decide whether you should call 911 or the tow lot first. And you knew that if (when) your husband found out your car was stolen he would say "that's it, that's enough, we're moving out of this hellhole" never mind that we have a lease, no movers and no where to go. And besides all that, HOW WERE YOU SUPPOSED TO GET TO WORK WITH NO CAR?? And about when you'd decided to head home and start calling the tow lot and 911 and your boss and possibly Canada, you walked one more block and found your poor, sad, 15 year old car tucked into a parking space and breathed a sigh of relief so great it probably reached Canada...If that had been your morning? You definitely would want this for dinner. I wouldn't know that first hand of course. I'm just guessing.
BAKED CHICKEN AND DITALINI
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 C ditalini
1 -2 C cooked chicken breast, diced. I used one very large breast, probably yielding about 1.5 C
14 oz of canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 C onion chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T oregano
1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
2-4 T olive oil
1-2 T butter
1/4 C bread crumbs
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Put a pot of water on the stove, and bring it to a boil. Cook 1 C of ditalini according to the package directions. Drain, toss with 1 T of olive oil and set aside.
Put some olive oil in a pan and bring to medium high heat. Salt and pepper your chicken and chop it into medium sized pieces, like this:Add your chicken to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until done, turn often. Chop into bite sized pieces. In another pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, the chopped onions and the chopped garlic. Cook for 3 minutes until the onions and garlic and softened. Add the 14 oz of tomatoes and the oregano. Stir until mixed. Butter an 8x8 baking dish. Add the ditalini and chicken to the sauce. Add the grated mozzarella and stir until well combined. Pour into the baking dish. In a small pan, melt the butter and add the bread crumbs. Toss until they are all buttery and golden. Off heat, add the parm, then use that to top the chicken pasta mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and melty, like so: