Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Rabe over Pasta

This is a healthy Italian meal with 2 key components; freshness and simplicity. Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Rabe over Farfalle has been my favorite pasta dish for years. I love the tender bite of the broccoli rabe along with the moist grilled chicken. Add the pasta and some grated cheese and it's a complete and delicious meal. I use 2 bunches of broccoli rabe so everyone gets a full serving of vegetables.   It's quick and easy, but best of all it's so tasty. On my other (pretend) site Julia's Not So Healthy Italian Cooking, I'd add 3 tablespoons of butter at the end just before serving it, but not here. No, not here. I'm keeping this site healthy.

When I make grilled chicken, I typically grill more than I need for this one recipe. Today I grilled 4 lbs. I used 1 pound for this recipe and will use the rest for salads, lunches or it will pop up in another meal later on this week. Grilled chicken will keep perfectly in the fridge for up to 5 days. Remember, chicken shrinks and looses 1/4 of it's precooked weight, so I only (only) really get 3 pounds from my original 4 pounds. It's almost nothing :) I'm Italian, what can I say. I get a deep sense of satisfaction from feeding people. My mood depends on what I had as my last meal and I'm most happy when I'm cooking.  It's the truth!

You'll need:

1 lb farfalle pasta, or any bite size pasta, I also like Barilla's rigatoni
2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems trimmed, cut in half, washed and boiled for 90 seconds
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the heel of your hand
1 lb chicken cutlets, grilled in a grill pan, sliced into bite size slices
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of pasta water, reserve just before draining pasta

In a large pot of rapidly boiling water, cook broccoli rabe for 90 seconds, remove with tongs, set aside. No ice bath necessary, that's for TV cooks. In the same water, add some salt (I put 2 or 3 tablespoons into the water) and boil pasta according to instructions for al dente, drain and set aside. In a grill pan, grill chicken. In order to get it not to stick, I rub each cutlet with a tiny amount of olive oil. Grill it until golden, they cook fast since they're thin, about 3 minutes on each side, then cut them into slivers, set aside.
In a small pan, add oil and garlic, cook til golden, but not too brown. Dark garlic is bitter.
Combine pasta, chicken, broccoli rabe, garlic in oil, salt, pepper and pasta water. I tossed them all back into the same pot I boiled the pasta in so as not to dirty another bowl. Mix well and serve in pasta bowls with a sprinkle of grated cheese. I like Pecorino Romano, but parmigiano works well too.

Serves 8 (or 6 hungry Italians)

When grilling, use olive oil, but not extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin has a low thermal viscosity ( I remember that phrase from a motor oil commercial) and will burn easily creating a lot of smoke. Use regular olive oil to grill and save the extra virgin for other things like salads.

I usually blanch broccoli rabe ahead of time. I buy it when its on sale and freeze it in a ziploc for future use(see my broccoli rabe freezer bag recipe dated march 29th). If you have your frozen broccoli rabe, then defrost it in the microwave or do what I do...I put the sealed bag into the boiling pot of pasta water and defrost it while the pasta is cooking.


  1. Drool!! Tommy is not a fan of broccoli rabe, so when I make it, it's all for me!!

  2. This looks really delicious! I could eat Broccoli Rabe everyday!

  3. Thanx guys, Gina and Watson you are both great cooks... I'm flattered :)
    Watson trained in France as a chef!


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