Today’s lesson is in the art of multitasking. Perhaps I’m getting in the back to school mood here–this is a recipe that will teach you to juggle multiple things at one time. The end result is a seriously worthy dinner. Roasted asparagus and tomatoes, chicken, and pasta all tossed in a balsamic butter glaze. Get a little fancy on the weeknights with this balsamic pasta recipe.
This is one of the very first recipes that I found/made from Pinterest. Straight from the early days of the website, when there were probably 20 people using it. And me of course. The recipe was love at first sight. Because Pinterest is photos, ha, get it. Oh boy, get me off the stage.
My sister and I decided to try to make the balsamic pasta (originally from Food & Wine) when I visited her at college in Kansas. So, that should give you a indicator of how easy the recipe is; two college kids pulled it off. And both of us still make it regularly today. We also baked some ridiculously awesome mini Oreo cheesecakes, also from Pinterest (they won me a contest, no joke—but that recipe will have to be for some other time). This balsamic pasta dish has become its own sort of comfort food, probably the only comfort food of mine that doesn’t involve copious amounts of cheese. There’s only a little cheese.
The multitasking starts with making some pasta. This step, pretty simple. While you are waiting for the pasta water to boil, preheat the oven. Roast asparagus and tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. The veggies help to add bulk and variety to the pasta dish. If you don’t like asparagus or if it’s the middle of winter, use broccoli instead.
While the veggies are roasting, make the chicken. I recommend cooking the chicken breast using the Joy of Cooking method, which can be found here (thanks to my food bible, The Kitchn). The chicken turns out moist and tender every time. But however you prefer to cook it is hunky dory. This is one dish that I really like adding protein to, versus those meatless ones. If you’re a planner, you might even make the chicken ahead of time, meaning one less step at dinnertime.
Oh and I almost forgot, while all of this is going on you need to make the glaze. Once the chicken is cooking away and the veggies are roasting (and the pasta is probably done cooking and set aside), make the balsamic glaze. Simmering balsamic is…interesting. You’ll want to turn on the vent fan; things get vinegary and pungent pretty quickly. Whatever you do, do NOT lean over the pan and inhale.
Once the balsamic is reduced it becomes syrupy, thick, and a little more mellow in flavor. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The butter helps to cut the acidity of the balsamic, and the combination creates a uniquely delicious taste.
Add the balsamic glaze to the pasta while it’s still warm, otherwise it will get sticky. Mix all of the separate components together in one large bowl to bring the dish together. And then, do you know what is good for serving on top of this? More parmesan cheese. You know what else is good with this? White wine of course. The pasta is even delicious when it’s cold, as leftovers for the next day’s lunch (wine optional!). What a deal.
- 8 oz. penne pasta
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp brown suger
- 3 tbsp butter, sliced into thin pieces
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the asparagus and tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for 10-15 minutes until the asparagus is tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- At this point, cook the chicken breasts if this step has not been completed already.
- Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat until about ¼ cup remains and the vinegar is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the brown sugar and ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat.
- Place the pasta in a giant bowl. Add the butter and stir to coat. Add the balsamic and mix well until the pasta is completely coated. Taste the pasta and if you feel it is too acidic, add a little more butter. Then stir in the chicken, asparagus, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan and 1 tsp of salt. Stir once more. Serve warm or cold, with additional parmesan if desired.
- A head of broccoli can be substituted for the asparagus.