Healthy eating has its foundations in moderation and balance: not too much of this, equal amounts of those. Managing some diseases effectively means being extra vigilant about certain calorie types or nutrients, such as carbohydrate consumption (diabetes) or sodium intake (cardiac disease). In the game of meal planning and tracking, it’s nice to have a secret weapon: a recipe that’s a hearty meal all by itself.
Packed with rustic Italian flavor, this chicken and pasta entree is quick to whip up and easy to prepare — it can all be done on a cooktop with minimal tools. Yet it’s no slouch in terms of nutrients. The dish is low in fat, thanks to sparing use of olive oil (a healthier fat). Cannellini beans pump up the dietary fiber, and chicken breast makes
it a fine source of protein. And the carbohydrate content falls right in line with the general guidelines of the American Diabetes Association.
Chicken Penne Toscana
Servings: 6 | Time: less than 1 hour
6 oz penne pasta
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
3 cups cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced shallots
12 cups fresh spinach
Grated parmesan cheese
Using a pot or saucepan, cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.
- In a separate skillet, heat about half the oil on medium-high heat. Lightly season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then sear for 6 to 8 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil, rosemary, garlic, spinach, pepper, shallots, and beans to the skillet. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the spinach wilts.
- Slice the chicken, then combine the pasta, chicken, and bean mixture.
- Divide into portions; sprinkle a spoonful of parmesan cheese before serving.
Nutritional Facts (per serving)
Calories: 400; Fat: 7 g; Saturated fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 73 mg; Sodium: 570 mg; Carbohydrates: 45 g; Total sugars: 3 g; Dietary fiber: 9 g; Protein: 40 g.
- See these step-by-step instructions for searing chicken breasts. If they are especially thick, you can pound them to a more uniform thinness (in that case, reduce cooking time to 3 to 4 minutes per side).
- If sodium is a concern, skip the salt on the chicken, rinse the beans well, and consider omitting the cheese.
- Experiment with substitutions, like replacing the shallots with onion. However, beware of changing the nutritional content: for example, using olives would raise the sodium and fat amounts.
- If you're saving some to eat as leftovers, wait to add the parmesan.