This rich, flavoursome dish is to die for. The sweetness from tomatoes and sharp zingy flavour from lemons, combined together with silky chicken create the perfect balance. This could be an amazing Saturday night feast or a lovely dish for a Sunday family lunch.
Let me tell you, I suck at a meal planning. This could sound awfully bad, especially because I keep talking about food waste and the methods of how to overcome this terrible habit. But it’s true. I do not plan my weekly menu. If I have a recipe that I really want to cook, I’ll make sure that I buy all the necessary ingredients. However, this accounts for about 30% of my total weekly menu. For everything else, I buy my usual ingredients and then try to figure out what to cook.
Despite this, we’ve never thrown away food. I know how much we eat. I know the products we like and how to use them. If by any circumstances I end up not using one or another product, I’ll put it in the freezer. This way I know that it’s safe and I can use it the following week.
My shopping habits
Why I am sharing this? Because I want to show you that you don’t need to follow arbitrary rules that don’t fit in with your lifestyle or eating habits. You can create a system which works perfectly, even if it isn’t widely loved or appreciated. To make things clear, I want to explain that I’m not an irresponsible shopper. I have some principles which I always follow:
- I shop once a week, topping up just milk, butter and bread during the week.
- If I find a recipe that I want to cook, but I don’t have the necessary ingredients, I’ll put it on my ‘wish list’ for the following week.
- I always check my fridge before I go shopping.
- I have limited space in my kitchen to store all my wonderful grains. This is why everything is stored in glass jars, as it helps to monitor the levels I have left. If I want to buy a new ingredient, first of all, I need to finish what I have in my kitchen.
- If I want to buy something that isn’t on my basic shopping list, I need to come up with at least 3 recipes. This is how I know that I’ll definitely use it.
- I buy just for 5 days instead of 7 days. This way, one day we have leftovers and on the other it’s more likely that we’ll be eating out or getting a takeaway (if not, well… this is why we have cupboards and freezer).
- I have a weekly shopping budget.
- If something is going out of date, I put it in the freezer.
- I like to have an emptier fridge – this way I can see all the products and monitor the dates.
- I don’t go shopping when I’m hungry.
If you’re like me and you cannot make food planning your friend, try to establish a method that works for you. Create a fail-safe basic product list that you can be confident in (if you wish I can share my list). This saves so much time and money! For example, I always buy a pack of chicken breasts and no matter what, I know that I will use them – chop them finely and I’ll have a patty for a burger, use breadcrumbs and say hello to katsu curry or slowly cook it with some beautiful spices and Mexican tacos are on their way.
I think the best piece of advice is always to have a recipe in your mind before you buy a product. This is especially the case if you’re not terribly familiar with it. If you can’t come up with a recipe, keep that product in your mind, do some research, find a recipe and next week add it to your shopping basket. It is not going to disappear from the supermarket shelves, so take your time. Lastly, buy a little bit less than you think you need. This way, one day can be a cupboard cleaning day and you’ll beable to use all the oldest products in your kitchen.
Talking about having a recipe in your head, one day lumaconi pasta ended up in my shopping basket. This was completely unplanned and unintended. But pasta is a very versatile and unfussy product. It comes in different shapes and sizes, but you always know that no matter what, you’ll find the best recipe. Also, it can be in your cupboard for a year and still be good! After I did a little recipe scan in my head, I thought this was a good purchase and in the next couple of weeks I’d find the occasion to use it.
The occasion came a couple of days ago and let me tell you – it was scrumptious! Creamy filling with chicken and a rich tomato sauce – it was like heaven on a plate. You can use any leftover chicken, but if you don’t have it, just marinate the chicken breasts with the mix of spices and slowly cook it in the oven. Also, I used lumaconi pasta, but you can use any bigger pasta as well – cannelloni, conchiglioni or paccheri work perfectly fine.
For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of mixed herbs (rosemary, basil, dill and parsley)
Salt and pepper
For the pasta and sauce:
250g dried pasta
4 cloves of garlic
50ml double cream
200g cream cheese
80g sun dried tomatoes
Salt and pepper
- Prepare the chicken: using all the spices, rub them into the chicken breasts, drizzle some olive oil and marinate them overnight. Bake the chicken breasts in the oven for 1.5 hours at 150 degrees. Shred the chicken into small pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
- Prepare the sauce: chop the leek and garlic. Add a knob of butter into a preheated pan. Add the leek and garlic and lightly fry them. Pour in the passata, chopped tomatoes and 100ml of water. Season it with salt and pepper to your liking. Simmer the sauce for 30-40 minutes. At the end, squeeze the juice of ½ lemon and pour in the double cream. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Prepare the filling. Finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Mix them with cream cheese and shredded chicken.
- Assemble the dish: pour in the sauce into a baking dish. Add the filling into your pasta and put them into the sauce. Finish with cheese on top (use a half of the cheese).
- Bake the pasta for 40 minutes covered with foil. Add the remaining half of cheese on top, take off the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle some parsley or basil on top and serve it.
If you are lacking ideas for the pasta dishes, check out my recipes: