Many people love to grow their own vegetables in the summer. If that’s you, you might want to tune in to this post, since it uses fresh tomatoes and basil…and nothing is better than picking it straight out of your own garden right before you begin cooking. That’s one of the biggest thrills of gardening for me, the produce yields. Whether it be fruit or vegetables, it’s still exciting every time you get to pick something that just ripened to perfection, with plans to use it in tonight’s dinner. Tomatoes and basil are both a very simple backyard gardening effort, as long as you have a decent amount of sunshine and ample water. Basil can even grow year round if you have it in a pot that you can bring indoors during the colder months. Tomatoes typically grow from mid-May until September or October, depending on the summer. Picking a fresh tomato (regardless of variety) and cooking with it that day makes for some excellent flavor in your dinner, I promise!
In our household, we have a picky 2 year old who doesn’t eat much besides cheese, yogurt, cereal, mac n cheese and hot dogs, much to my dismay. I love to cook and it’s very difficult to find meals that he will eat. Shockingly, he actually ate a good portion of the noodles in this dish, although he did pick around the tomatoes a bit, and steered very clear of the basil. He does appreciate some garlic on occasion, and I always tend to go a bit overboard with it because I am just a huge garlic lover. This is a very light and delicious dinner, and served next to a loaf of homemade bread, it’s downright delicious. I would recommend this to anyone, and I sure do hope you’ll try it. It’s well worth it.
I have varied the types of tomatoes I’ve added to this dish, you can use varieties such as early girl, roma, and even cherry tomatoes like sun golds or sun sugars. Each tomato has it’s own unique flavor and I think if I had to choose, a mix of fresh roma and cherry sun sugars is my favorite. It just emanates summer. If you make this recipe in winter and buy the tomatoes from the store, I’d highly recommend just using roma tomatoes or a mix of roma and grape tomatoes. We make it in winter because it’s just too good to wait all the way until next summer to eat it again, and it brings nice fluffy feelings…and reminds us that summer isn’t too far off again.
Another fun twist, if you’re tired of chicken or just have a hankering for seafood, you can easily substitute shrimp into this recipe instead. If you decide to go that route, skip cooking the chicken at the beginning and just start by sauteing the tomatoes. As the last step, you’ll add the shrimp (peeled and deveined) and cook for 4-5 minutes or until pink and cooked through. Pre-season them with salt and pepper, and if you’d like, a seafood seasoning. Both ways are delicious!
Lastly, the type of noodles can easily be varied as well. Linguine, fettuccine, spaghtetti, etc. It’s even more fun if you make your own homemade noodles. 🙂
And without further ado, here is the recipe!
Tomato & Basil Chicken with Pasta
Ingredients: (4 servings)
- 2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips (or 1/2 pound shrimp, if substituting)
- salt and black pepper
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups roughly chopped fresh tomatoes
- 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
- 4 Tbsp cold butter
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- 1/2 lb dry pasta of your choice
Season chicken breast slices with salt and black pepper. Add olive oil to your skillet, and heat oil on medium high. While waiting for the oil to heat, start your pasta according to package directions, or if using homemade pasta, follow recipe directions. You don’t want to have to wait for your pasta to finish at the end. Make sure your oil is hot before adding chicken, you can splash a small amount of water on the oil and if it sputters, it’s hot enough. Add the chicken when hot, and cook until chicken is no longer pink.
Next, add your tomatoes. Stir and cook for about a minute, and then add your fresh basil (reserve a small amount for garnish). Your kitchen will be smelling wonderful about now, so enjoy it! Then add the cold butter, and allow to melt, making a very delicious, thin sauce. Lastly, add in your garlic. At this point, you can sneak a quick taste and if you like, season your sauce with additional salt and pepper. Stir the sauce and chicken together well.
Your pasta should be ready by now. Top the pasta with the chicken and sauce, and garnish with Parmesan cheese and remaining basil, and serve!
I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we have! Feel free to share and leave a comment below telling me what you think!
This probably sounds weird, but I’m not a fan of store bought tortillas, and I didn’t have a chance to make homemade ones the other day. I was craving enchiladas, so I decided I would try to come up with a random recipe for chicken to serve over rice, and well, needless to say, I shocked myself yet again. I get super concerned about culinary endeavors that I undertake all on my own, I’m not particularly confident when it comes to cooking or baking from scratch and without a recipe. Even the hubby went nuts over this one. It had just the right blend of flavors, and was extremely easy. I used chicken tenders, but you can use chicken breasts as well. If you’re really fancy or whatever, you could always shred the chicken at the end and use it in tacos, or whatever you felt like using it for, really!
Let me stop here though, and mention that this is NOT a low calorie or fat free recipe. I do like to stick to healthy things, but every once in a while it’s just nice to indulge in a home-cooked meal, chock full of fatty goodness. Please…don’t judge me. 😀 It was just too good to resist. I make my homemade broccoli and cheese soup with a Velveeta base as well as regular cheese, and I happened to have extra, so I used the remaining Velveeta to make this one. Again….don’t judge me. Sometimes you just have to. Thursday was just one of those nights. I think even my 5 month old was drooling, although he’s too young to have any yet.
So…it’s simple. Grab your crockpot…and you need the following three items:
You want the large cans of diced tomatoes and enchilada sauce. I used HALF of a regular box of Velveeta.
1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes with seasonings, such as basil, garlic and oregano. Drained.
1 Large Can of Red Enchilada Sauce (any brand works fine)
1/2 Box of Velveeta Cheese (yes…cringe, I know. I swear I won’t do it again. For at least a while)
Add these ingredients into your crock pot, and turn it on high for an hour until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly. You can skip this step if you are in a hurry, I’m just weird and do things in odd orders. If you skip it, layer your chicken on the bottom first, and then add the two cans of sauce and tomatoes, and then cut your cheese up into chunks and distribute it over the chicken and the sauce. Works the same way in the long run. If you’re adventurous, feel free to add in green chiles, jalapenos, or even black olives!
If you did it my way, after your cheese and sauce has gotten warm and bubbly, gently add your chicken. I used 8 chicken tenders.
8 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Tenders-OR-
4 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts
After the chicken has been added, reduce heat to either the high 4-6 hour setting, or the low 6-8 hour setting, depending upon when you need your chicken ready.
We served this over white rice, but it would probably be just as good, if not better, over Spanish style rice or Mexican style rice. 🙂 We also topped it with fresh Mexican style shredded cheese, and sour cream. It was delicious! Hubby went back for seconds, and took some to work the next day.
I wish I could say I had a finished product picture for you all, but…I forgot to take one since it got inhaled so fast. Rain check on that one. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming blog on how to make homemade tortillas, it’s coming soon, as well as a crock pot enchilada recipe!