Seared Chicken with Fusili and Fresh Veg and Herb Pasta Sauce

There are times when one just wants it all, both meat and pasta with a killer fresh sauce, not a jarred or canned sauce.  I am especially proud of this dish because it is a one-pot-wonder.  Sure cuts down on the number of dishes you have to clean later!  This will feed a family of four on a budget a healthy and filling meal, also great for lunch leftovers. Let's get started!

Chicken Seasoning:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoons palm-crushed dried oregano 
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
salt and pepper, about a teaspoon each

Season four-to-six boneless, skinless chicken thighs on both sides and set aside to come to room temperature. Add a good two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet and sear about four minutes per side. Place on a wire rack over a baking pan and finish at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes in the oven. Remove and allow to rest. After ten minutes, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. 

Fresh Pasta Sauce Ingredients:
1 red onion, sliced into slivers
2 pints halved grape or cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper
fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley and torn fresh basil (about a half cup, together)
fresh or dried oregano and thyme (about two teaspoons of each)
1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or wine (I use Cento, my favorite!)
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

 I went a little backwards, but I wanted to get you excited about the pasta sauce and how fresh it all it and to let you know we do not want to cook it down to a puddle; we want it chunky and fresh, almost putanesca style. More on the sauce in just a little bit!

Before the sauce goes into the pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a roiling boil.  Add a generous amount of salt to the water (it is the only chance you get to season the pasta) and add a box or package of short fusili pasta to the water.  Boil/cook the pasta to just before al dente (just before done).  Strain it in a colander and let it sit for a few moments.  

Immediately add the 3-4 tablespoons of evoo to the pot and add the onion and garlic over medium-high heat.  Add a little salt to onions to help them "sweat out" and release their sugars.  Add the halved tomatoes and herbs and stir after about three or four minutes to the onions and garlic, which, by  now, should be incredibly fragrant! 

After five minutes of stirring and simmering over the medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the pasta.  Toss the pasta and the veggies together constantly to coat all of it with those fresh flavors.  Note:  I added a second round, but not as much of it, of the fresh herbs to add a bit more fresh Italian flavors.  I also added a hand full of grated pecorino romano, which is great for a pasta toss. 

After a good five minutes of tossing and heating, the pasta will be ready to be served on a plate or a bowl, topped with some of the chicken, garnished with fresh herbs and cheese.  

 One more, you ask for?  Sure!

 Thank You again for your time and consideration!  I hope you enjoy this simple, fragrant, flavorful and extremely easy pasta dish!  
Now, go cook something for someone you love! 

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