One fun (nosy?) thing that I like to do from time to time is to walk the aisles of grocery stores to see what new products are available, or what things I have never noticed before. A perfect place to do this is at the Walmart superstore.
I finally had enough time to really scope out the aisles, rather than zero in on a particular item, jewel thief style, to get in and out as fast as I could before going into work. Being able to browse at my own leisure, I saw a lot of interesting items.
One was this item, pictured, a packet of Italian blend spices to use on chicken and tomatoes, to be roasted and served with pasta. I’m not sure if it was the mention of “all natural” that drew me in, (all of the ingredients have names I can pronounce) or the name conjuring up the taste of bruschetta in my mouth, but either way, this packet went home with me, for well under $2.
The recipe calls for 1 lb. of chicken, 1/3 cup of oil, 10 plum tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and pasta. I opted against the pasta when I used the packet yesterday, pairing a double measure of chicken and tomatoes with couscous instead. (I figured adding more meat and tomatoes would make better use of the substantial amount of oil called for, and provide more leftovers!)
Here’s what I did:
- Cut the chicken breast into strips, as requested on the packaging. (Or you could use raw chicken tenders.) Cut the tomatoes into lengthwise quarters, also as originally requested. Placed the chicken and tomatoes in separate 13×9 baking pans, sprayed with cooking spray.
- Mixed the seasoning with the oil, and added the vinegar at this time. (The package says to hold the vinegar to the end, when you would’ve been mixing everything with the pasta, along with 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture, but I thought using the vinegar upfront couldn’t hurt.)
- Brushed the spice mixture over the chicken and tomatoes, and then topped with a bit of kosher salt–the mix didn’t have much salt in it. I suppose that’s a good thing, though, as spice blends are often overly salty.
- Baked the pans in a 425-degree oven until the chicken was done, per package instructions. Let the pans cool, then attempted to dice the tomatoes as requested. But I ended up smashing the tomatoes a bit with a meat tenderizer before cutting, to avoid a juicy mess as much as possible.
- Added the chicken and tomatoes over top of couscous cooked in the microwave. (I went with a half-cup of couscous for myself, and served the dish with sauteed spinach.)
Notes: I think McCormick’s intended recipe would be good as well, as roasting the tomatoes and mixing with pasta would yield a nice, fresh pasta sauce. They also suggested topping with parmesan, which you can never go wrong with doing!
Here are some other ideas I had:
- If going in pasta mode: top with some slivered fresh basil.
- If going in couscous mode: try adding golden raisins and olives to add another sweet/savory dimension.
- I’d consider grilling the chicken, but I’d let it sit in some of the spice mixture for a bit, as a marinade. I might use a bit more balsamic (or even red wine vinegar) for a marinade.