GINNA PARSONS: Little pasta stars in Italian recipe

About a month ago, my daughter, Mary, and I traveled to Memphis to shop at Target (for her) and The Fresh Market (for me). Whenever I’m in this upscale grocery store, I always like to look for new products to bring home to try.
On this particular visit, I was struck by a box of tiny bowtie pasta called farfalline. These bowties were no more than a half-inch long. They were so cute, I couldn’t resist purchasing them, although I had no particular recipe in mind.
On Monday, while scouring the Internet for a “low-fat wonder recipe,” as my husband likes to call my dinner concoctions, I came across one from Giada De Laurentiis from The Food Network that sounded quick and easy. There were like 416 reviews written about it, and the first 20 or 30 I looked at were all positive.
A couple of suggestions were made, however. One was to at least double the amount of chicken used. Another was to omit the bread crumbs, because of their “grainy” texture. I plan to make this dish this week with those tweaks in mind, although I’ll probably use fresh bread crumbs instead of the store-bought kind, which can tend to be grainy.

Italian Baked Chicken
and Pastina
1 cup small pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 cup cubed chicken breasts
12 cup diced onion (about 12 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
14 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
14 teaspoon kosher salt
14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 cup bread crumbs
14 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

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