This healthy, economical and delicious one pot meal has become a favourite at our house. I used chicken breasts as my family prefers them, but it would be absolutely delicious with boneless chicken thighs. For a milder flavour, just replace the smoked paprika with ordinary paprika, but do consider trying the smoked as it really does give the dish a wonderful depth.
You need a casserole dish with a lid that goes from the stove top to the oven, or failing that, you can use a frying pan for the first part of the recipe, and then move the ingredients to a large casserole that can go in the oven.
To serve four people, you need:
2 tablespoons oil (I use olive oil)
1 red onion, cut roughly in eighths
1 red or green pepper, seeded and cut in chunks
1 cup quartered white or button mushrooms
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, and then in fairly thick half moons
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless thighs, preferably pasture raised, free range or organic, cut in fairly large chunks
about ½ cup cube pancetta or chopped bacon slices, preferably pasture raised, free range or organic
1 can (about 14 ounces) tomatoes, preferably organic
3 tbsp basil pesto, homemade if possible
½ teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
1½ cups of small pasta shapes (I used tubettini)
1½ cups boiling water, cooled a bit
chopped or dried parsley to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350℉ (170℃ or 160℃ for a fan oven). Heat the olive oil in a large stove-top safe casserole oven medium heat. Add the red onion, pepper, mushrooms and zucchini and stir fry for two or three minutes.
Add the chicken and stir through.
Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, just until the chicken starts to lose its pink colour. Stir in the pancetta or bacon and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, smoked paprika, about a quarter teaspoon of salt and an eighth of a teaspoon of pepper. Finely grate in the garlic. Put the lid on the casserole and transfer it to the oven. (If using a frying pan, transfer the ingredients to the casserole now and then put it in the oven.)
Cook for about twenty minutes if using chicken breasts, or thirty minutes if using chicken thighs. Remove from the oven. Take the bay leaf out and add the pasta.
Add the boiling water and stir through carefully. Return to the oven for about ten minutes, then check to see if the pasta is done. If it is not, and all the liquid has been absorbed, you can add a bit more water. You may need to return the casserole to the oven for five minutes or so - you want the pasta to be al dente. Make sure that the chicken is cooked as well, with no pink remaining inside.
When the pasta is cooked, check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Garnish with chopped or dried parsley. You can serve this from the casserole at the table, and it is lovely with some fresh hot rolls served alongside.