As much as I love to cook, there are days when the very thought of preparing a nutritious meal can be overwhelming. You know the occasions; hours spent watching track or swim meets, cleaning the mess in a flooded basement , or running a month of errands, deplete both time and energy. The supper hour is looming, the family’s hungry, and there’s nothing to eat.
For times like this, I’m thinking of fast, easy and delicious. I want a simple meal that involves minimal prep and uses only ingredients normally found in my refrigerator, freezer and cupboard. My secret to a dinner that is both satisfying and relaxing? A good quality pasta sauce. It comes in a jar , resides quietly in the pantry, and provides inspiration when needed
In the recipe for Saturday Night Baked Chicken, boneless chicken lightly browned, smothered with savory sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and baked provides the perfect match for whole wheat pasta. Add a frozen green vegetable like broccoli, kale or spinach and you have a hearty, delicious, easy meal in no time.
SATURDAY NIGHT BAKED CHICKEN
1 pound boneless chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs
2 cups prepared pasta sauce
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup (4 ounces) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese
8 ounces whole wheat pasta
Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil to cook the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
In an oven-proof shallow casserole or large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil, turning with tongs. Cover the chicken with the prepared pasta sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven until the chicken is done. The time varies, allow about ½ hour. The chicken is cooked thoroughly when a meat thermometer registers at least 150 degrees at the thickest part of the chicken.
While the chicken is baking in the oven, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Drain the water from the pasta and toss with olive oil.
Serves four people.
Nutritional analysis per serving of the chicken: 338 calories, 44 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams fat (0 grams trans fat), 668 mg. Sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Nutritional analysis with 2 ounces whole wheat pasta and chicken: 518 calories, 51 grams protein, 52 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams fat (0 grams trans fat), 668 mg. Sodium, 7 grams fiber.