Here's a simple, easy homestyle meal for a cold winter night. We served this to a mixed table of adults and young children last week and there wasn't a scrap left over. We can't take the credit, though — this is simple and nourishing food that needs little help from the cook.
The boneless, skinless chicken breasts are cooked fast — poached in their own juices for moist and tender texture. Then we made a simple sauce with just a few ingredients — spicy ginger, wine, and broth, with a little sage for piquancy. Stir in a bag of baby spinach leaves and now you have a complete meal.
I've never thought to use ginger in pasta before, but it's quite a delicious pairing. The sauce is light, letting the flavors of the chicken and spinach shine through, and simple enough to pull off on a busy weeknight — especially if you ask your butcher to pound your chicken for you when you purchase it.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, unsalted butter, or combination of both
Handful of fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 pound dried pasta 1 (10-ounce) bag baby spinach
Pound the chicken to an even thickness with a meat pounder or bottom of a small frying pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil or butter and swirl to cover the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken, and cook undisturbed for 1 minute, until just starting to turn golden-brown. Flip the chicken over, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, covered, for another 10 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is cooked (it should register at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Place the pan with its juices back on the stove over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and cook until just wilted. Add the wine and ginger and cook until slightly reduced. Add the broth and simmer until reduced by half. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package instructions.
Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add the ginger sauce and spinach and toss over low heat until the spinach is wilted. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve the chicken sliced on top of the pasta.
Updated from a recipe originally published November 2007.