This recipe was born before the tomato invasion, but it has become a firm favourite comfort dinner, with the added bonus of being quick and slightly more virtuous than some other comfort foods (and an excellent use of my tomatoes!)
I assume this sauce has a proper name in Italian (either that or it would horrify every nonna in the land) but it has become known as Pasta Diciannove as it was born out of Covid-19 lockdown and was a go-to on a bad day.
It’s also a forgiving recipe for additions and removals. I might not have rocket, but will happily add some torn basil. If I’ve not got olives, I might add a couple of spoonfuls of capers. You can play with it until you get something that’s perfect for you.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 chicken breast
8-10 cherry tomatoes
10-12 black olives (I have become obsessed with dried black olives – they taste amazing)
Chilli paste (or a small chilli, or dried – this recipe is made for substitutions)
2 cloves of garlic, whole but peeled
A handful of rocket
Enough pasta for two people – this can depend on how hungry you are, the kind of pasta you’re using. But as a rough guide, I used 150g of cavatappi
Salt, pepper, olive oil
Put a pan of salted water on to boil
While the pasta water boils, pop a good glug of olive oil in a second pan on a low heat. Add the two whole garlic cloves. This is just to gently scent the oil, not make garlic the dominant flavour. (if you’re using fresh or dried chilli, add it now).
Cut your chicken breast into small pieces and add to the olive oil. Raise the heat and add a squeeze of chilli paste. stir to coat and let it cook.
While the chicken is cooking cut your tomatoes in half (you can also roughly chop your olives now as well).
When the chicken is cooked, add the tomatoes. leave them to soften and cook down. Season with salt and pepper.
Your water should be boiling now, so add the pasta and give it a good stir. No need to add oil to the water, the best way to stop pasta sticking is to stir it regularly.
Check on the chicken and tomatoes. The tomatoes should be softening and as they do, you can give them a little squash with a spoon to help them on their way. Use your spoon to remove the two garlic cloves. Add the olives to this pan.
By the time the pasta is cooked you should be getting a nice tomato sauce. Drain your pasta and add it to the sauce. Give it a good stir to mix it up.
Make sure you’ve turned the heat off under the pan. Add your handful of rocket and stir. The rocket should begin to wilt.
Serve and enjoy!