What is it about pasta that just makes it feel like you’ve been given a big hug? The poster child of all comfort food, I believe. And sometimes you just need some comfort food.
We’ve both been sick at our house, and I have the pre holiday blues for whatever reason. So the solution was a big pot full of stick to your ribs pasta. Because sometimes you need food that gives you a hug, and makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.
These days I don’t cook a lot of pasta, and I can see myself making this chicken sauce again and pairing it with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash when I don’t want to eat something as heavy as pasta. That is an option for any of you out there that don’t do pasta or want a lighter option with this dish.
One secret is the longer the sauce simmers at the end before you add the pasta: THE BETTER. Yum! It allows the flavors to blend and develop really wonderfully. The secret with the majority of tomato based sauces. While this dish is not super complicated, it takes a bit of time. If you want a quick week night dinner, I wouldn’t suggest it. It’s a more leisurely, special occasion type dinner. Always good to have options and ideas for those nights as well.
I know I preach eating and cooking healthy and make healthier choices, then I post a pasta recipe. Don’t hate me for it. I’m not a hypocrite, either. I’m just a real person who wants to indulge occasionally.
I am able to honestly say, I understand that we all need a cheat meal occasionally. The way to handle a cheat meal is to enjoy it, and move on. Don’t over indulge and make yourself miserably full because you don’t get to eat this way everyday. And also don’t say, well I already ruined this day by eating this meal, so I’m going to eat junk the rest of the day. That’s not the right mind set of healthy living. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve said those things, and it led to a week of eating off the rails, and hating myself for it. But unable to stop myself. And a week can turn into another week, etc.
These days, I try to really enjoy the things I eat that aren’t the healthiest. My indulgences or ‘cheat’ meals or special occasion foods. And then I move on, and pick up my normal diet. Sometimes, I’m more successful than others because I still fall victim to life stress. But I fall less and less off the rails, because I’m learning to listen to my body, and what it wants and needs. And I’m learning to control the emotional and mental side of eating and handling stress. Those things are all a very inter connected web. How you feel based on what you eat plays into multiple areas of your life that you might not feel is connected.
I’ve also learned to pinpoint my weakness. The situations, that I let myself forget everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve within my health, and the no brakes food that send me into a downward spiral of misery. They make me feel less healthy, and in turn I hate myself for eating them. That is no bueno. I don’t like to feel that way, and no one should. Therefore we don’t keep those foods in the house. Simple as that. And those situations are the main reason I pack snacks and water every where I go, to give myself healthier options in case I need them.
It’s a constant learning process. And it’s frustrating, without a doubt. It does however, get easier. I’m learning so much about myself, nutrition, health and how to be my best self. That part of the journey is rewarding and fun, learning about yourself. Your health is the center of your life. If you aren’t your best self and your most healthiest, how can you be everything you need to be in the rest of your life?
Enjoy this meal. Make it for a date night, and thoroughly enjoy it and that moment. Or make it for a big family dinner, and talk about your day with those you love. Food is such a center point in our lives, and we should enjoy it and the memories around the food. Or the special meals we make to celebrate the ones we love.
But still remember that food doesn’t control us. We can say no thank you, we can eat one serving and not the pan, whatever it is. We have control. And that is how you enjoy these indulgences, and comfort foods without saying: “Well, I really shouldn’t.” Because you should still live your life and enjoy the food. Mindfulness wins the battle, and keeps on track.
Looking for a way to make this a bit lighter? Swap the pasta for zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- 2 lbs Chicken cut into bite size pieces I used boneless, skinless thighs but breasts or tenders would work fine.
- 20 oz package Tortellini I used 5 cheese, but you can switch it up
- 1 med Red Onion finely diced
- 6 cloves Garlic minced
- 3 tbsp Avocado or Olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
- 1 cup Mushrooms
- 1 14.5 fl oz can Diced Tomatoes
- 1 15 fl oz can Tomato Sauce
- 3/4 cup White Wine
- 3/4 cup Chicken Stock
- 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Dried Italian Seasoning generously 2 tsp
- 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
- Parmesan Cheese for serving
In a large dutch oven, heat the oil. Season chicken pieces with some pepper and salt. Fry the chicken pieces in the oil in a single layer, 4 minutes per side to get a nice brown sear. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside for later. This will take a couple batches to sear all the chicken pieces. You don't want to over crowd the pan or they won't sear beautifully.
Once the chicken is done. Add more oil if needed (I didn't have to) and saute the onion for 10 minutes. While the onion cooks down, stir occasionally and scrap the bottom of the pan to get all the bits from cooking the chicken incorporated.
Add garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms to the onions, stir and cook another 5 minutes.
To the onion, garlic, sundries tomatoes and mushroom mixture add all the spices. And stir like you mean it, blending all those flavors together.
Add the wine and chicken stock. Bring to a boil for 10 mins.
After that has boiled, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken pieces. Bring to a boil again, then drop to a simmer. Simmer for at least 15 mins. But the longer the better.
While the chicken meat sauce simmers, cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
Once the pasta is done, drain it and add the pasta to the sauce. Mix thoroughly.
Serve hot, with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.