Eleni’s Special Pasta

My three year old absolutely loves to watch cooking shows. From those little one minute clips on Facebook by pages like Delish and Tasty to The Great British Bake Off, she is all about it! A few days ago we were watching Giada at Home (one of her favorites) on Netflix, and she decided that she wanted to make Giada’s Calabrian Chile Pasta. As Giada says on that episode, the pasta is a bit too spicy for little eaters, so Eleni and I decided to make our own version. We took away ingredients, and added ingredients, until we came up with something that was ridiculously delicious. This meal tasted like it came from a true Italian restaurant, it didn’t cost much to make, and it was ready in less than 20 minutes! For an even cheaper and easier meal, you could happily leave out the chicken and it would still tastes as good! I hope you enjoy.


1 box (1lb) penne pasta

Half an onion, chopped

2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

A punnet of baby tomatoes, quartered lengthwise

About 3-4 tbsp canned tomato sauce

The zest of 1 lemon

The juice of half a lemon

About 3 large chicken breasts, cooked and sliced (I roasted three big chicken breasts earlier in the afternoon with olive oil, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and a light sprinkle of chili powder)

A handful of fresh spinach, finely chopped

A glug or two of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

– Bring 4 cups of water with some salt to a boil in a roughly 10-inch, high-sided, shallow saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add in your penne pasta and keep it at a loose boil for about 9 minutes, until the pasta is just al dente. Meanwhile, saute the garlic and onion in a glug of olive oil in a separate pan.

When the pasta is cooked lower the heat, add in your garlic and onion, and then throw in the parmesan cheese to coat the pasta, until the cheese is just about melted.  Then add the quartered tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the zest and juice of our lemon, and the chicken. Stir well and allow to heat through (especially the chicken, as you don’t want to reheat chicken halfway – that could be dangerous!). Right at the very end, add another small glug of olive oil, the spinach and salt/pepper, and serve with some more fresh parmesan grated on top! Enjoy… our family sure did!

Eleni’s Special Pasta

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