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Although this recipe was a little out of my comfort zone, my husband and I (and my neighbor friend, Kelley, who is my trusted taste-tester) really enjoyed this Light and Easy Chicken Cacciatore. Now it is the week after holiday binge eating, so I feel obligated to tell you that this recipe is low fat and loaded with veggies. But what I really want to tell you…
…is about the tomato-based, vegetable-rich sauce. Oh my. It reduces down and develops this deep rustic Italian flavor while it simmers away. How can something so easy be so complex-tasting? Look, friends, if we’re going to eat healthfully in the New Year, this dish is what our tastebuds need–flavor, texture, and a beautiful dish to boot.
My updated twist on this classic includes adding in browned chicken breast bites at the end, assuring the chicken doesn’t overcook (which was my mistake the first time around!) and still retains its crispy texture. Serve over whole grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa for a healthy, comforting dinner. Don’t forget to add a glass of good red wine for an added “heart healthy” boost. Bonus: The leftovers are great the next day or to freeze for later.
Crispy chicken bites atop a tomato-based, veggie-rich sauce are served over whole grain pasta. This healthy and satisfying classic Italian dish tastes like it’s been simmering away all day long.
- 4 (about 2 lbs) chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat or unbleached flour
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large celery stalks, sliced
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Optional: 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (or dry white wine or chicken broth)
- 1 (28 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, juice and all
- Optional: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh chopped Italian parsley
- Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Toss with a little olive oil to coat.
- Add whole wheat flour to a gallon-sized zip top bag. Add chicken pieces to the bag, close, and shake until pieces are coated. Sauté chicken in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until cooked through and browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Turn heat down to medium and swirl 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan. Add peppers, onion, celery, mushrooms, and garlic, and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season vegetables with red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper (to taste) while they are cooking.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the vegetables and stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. (Note: You can omit this step, but the sauce will be thinner.)
- Add red wine and tomatoes to vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, scraping up any bits off the bottom of the pan, and reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced some and smells fragrant. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Add chicken pieces back in to the sauce (or on top of pasta and sauce on each individual plate).
- Serve over whole grain pasta or brown rice with some fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped Italian parsley on top.
Freezer Meal Instructions:
Cook recipe through step 5. Let sauce cool. Place in a freezer bag or container. Place chicken pieces in a separate freezer bag, making sure to squeeze out any air and seal tightly. Label and freeze both bags together up to 3 months.
Thaw sauce and chicken overnight in the refrigerator. Warm sauce on the stovetop in a pot over low heat, stirring regularly. Then, heat up the chicken bites in the microwave in 30 second increments, just until warmed through. (Do not overcook the chicken or it will be tough.) Serve as directed in Step 6.