Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pan-Seared Chicken Pasta with Roasted Pepper and Mozzarella

Lean chicken breasts, a simple tomato-based sauce with roasted bell pepper, and creamy fresh mozzarella combine with rotini for a quick, light, and satisfying dinner for four. Cook the chicken and sauce in the same pan, toss with the pasta, and give the cheese a few minutes to begin to melt—ready to serve.

Fresh mozzarella balls come in a variety of sizes, from the common jumbo-egg-sized (about four ounces each) to small pearls, about a half-inch in diameter. For this recipe, I used cherry-sized pearls, sometimes sold as ciliegine (“cherry” in Italian), and simply dropped them into the sauce about five minutes before serving time.

Cherry-Sized Mozzarella Balls
Serves 4

  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 6 oz mini rotini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb chicken breast tenders
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 14.5-oz can organic diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 5 oz cherry-sized mozzarella pearls (or larger, cut into pieces), about 3/4 cup
  • thyme leaves, for garnish
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place the bell pepper halves cut-side-down on a foil-lined baking pan and broil until the skin is blackened and blistered, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a paper bag, close tightly, and steam the pepper 15 minutes. Peel the skin from the flesh and cut the pepper into thin strips.
Blistered Pepper
Peeled Pepper 
Sliced Pepper
  1. Cook the rotini in boiling, salted water until al dente, 6-7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear until browned and just cooked through, 5-6 minutes per side.
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes (do not wipe out the skillet). Cut diagonally into thin strips.
Chicken Beginning to Sear 
Let the Chicken Rest
  1. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and cook 1 minute, scraping up brown bits.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked chicken, rotini, roasted pepper, and mozzarella and stir until hot throughout and the cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes.
Shallot and Garlic
Tomato Mixture Added
Pasta Ready to Plate
Divide the pasta and sauce among 4 bowls and garnish with thyme leaves. Serve hot.

Pan-Seared Chicken Pasta with Roasted Pepper and Mozzarella

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