Sometimes I question why I ever even put away my cast iron skillet in the first place. Truly, its home is on the stovetop because rarely do I make a meal that doesn't take advantage of its incomparable versatility.
This skillet rendition of chicken parm and pasta for two is no exception. Whether it's crisping up the breaded chicken or baking everything in the oven, the method behind this 30-minute meal is just as streamlined as the ingredient list. (We're talking eight items total!)
When to employ items of convenience — like frozen, pre-cooked chicken — is a question of desired outcomes. Sometimes, reaching for an item like this is the make-or-break choice between cooking dinner at home or ordering pad Thai, yet again. And given this meal is made for two, it's an easy way to add an ingredient that I normally only make in larger quantities.
After cooking the chicken until crisp, this recipe becomes all about quick next steps: Cook the tomatoes and marinara, add the pasta and cheese, fold in the chicken, top with more cheese, and broil until bubbly and brown. Basil is added at the end, because fresh herbs will always make you feel like you're doing the most, with barely any effort at all.
Chicken Parm and Pasta Skillet
6 ounces rigatoni pasta
8 ounces frozen breaded chicken breast
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, divided
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
Small handful fresh basil leaves
Arrange a rack in the top position of the oven and heat to broil.
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, microwave the chicken according to package directions. When cool enough to handle, cut into large chunks.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium oven-safe frying pan or cast iron skillet until shimmering. Add half of the sliced garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken and garlic to a plate.
Add the drained tomatoes and remaining garlic to the skillet. Cook until the tomatoes have softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the pasta, marinara, and half the cheese. Stir until fully coated and the cheese has melted. Fold in the reserved chicken and garlic. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Broil until the cheese has melted and begins to just brown in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Servings: This dish serves 2 and can be doubled exactly to serve 4.
- Food styling by Ayda Robana