Last night my roommate Anne and I enjoyed this quick pasta with cherry tomatoes, white beans and chicken for dinner. Anne supplied the ingredients and did the dishes; in exchange, I helmed the cooking process. The result of about 12 minutes' prep work in the kitchen was a warming, filling meal, perfect for the first (already brisk) night of fall:
Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, White Beans and Chicken
1. Cut 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides and nearly cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove the cooked chicken and set aside.
3. Lower the heat to medium and add 1 tbsp. more oil, if necessary. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Do not let the garlic brown.
4. Over high heat, deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup chicken broth or dry white wine. Allow liquid to reduce for about 3 minutes, then add 1 pint of halved cherry tomatoes, a good amount of salt, and some crushed red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes have wilted and released most of their liquid, about 4-6 minutes.
5. Add 1 small can (15.5 oz) of drained and rinsed white beans (cannellini beans) and the reserved chicken pieces to the skillet and stir gently. Lower heat and allow mixture to simmer. Meanwhile, salt the pasta water heavily and add about half a 1-lb. box of penne or other short pasta and cook until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.
6. Drain pasta and add to the simmering sauce, mixing well. Add about 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, reserving some for garnish, as well as a few tbsp. of olive oil and more salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls, topping each portion with more parsley and some grated parmesan, if desired.