GINNA PARSONS: Prepackaged chicken strips come in handy

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Last week, when I was interviewing Toni Randolph of Iuka for the Cook of the Week feature, she mentioned that she makes a chicken and broccoli pasta that her family really enjoys.
Only Randolph doesn’t have a recipe for the dish.
And she couldn’t even begin to give me one, because she never makes it quite the same way twice. It includes chicken and broccoli, of course, and carrots and chicken stock and pasta and some other stuff.
The one thing I took away from that particular conversation, however, was that she said she makes it using Tyson frozen grilled chicken breast strips. She said they’re a bit more expensive than buying boneless skinless chicken breasts and seasoning them and grilling them yourself, but the convenience was well worth the price.
I decided that the next time I was in a hurry to put dinner on the table, I would try them. As it turns out, I ended buying a package of them that very night.
When I left my interview in Iuka, it was 3:30 and I still had to do another interview in Tupelo at 4:45. By the time I got out of it, it was 5:30 and I was sorely tempted to head home and order out Mexican food from a nearby restaurant.
Instead, I ran by the grocery store and picked up a handful of items for a fajita-inspired supper. (The chicken strips were on sale for $5.99 for a package that served 7.) While the water boiled to cook the pasta, I seeded and sliced the bell peppers and the onion. While the pasta cooked, I sautéed the vegetables and the chicken.
The whole meal came together in about 20 minutes and it got rave reviews from everyone. I’ll definitely be making this one again – and stocking my freezer with packages of frozen chicken breast strips.

Chicken Fajita Pasta
1 (16-ounce) box whole wheat penne pasta
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in thin strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut in thin strips
1 onion, sliced in thin rings
2 tablespoons olive oil or more
1 (22-ounce) package Tyson frozen grilled chicken breast strips
1⁄2 cup chicken stock or broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot off the heat.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté bell pepper strips and onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add frozen chicken strips and chicken stock and cook another 3 minutes or until chicken is warmed through. Add chicken mixture to pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a bit more olive oil if mixture seems dry.
Serves 8.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.