Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Some days cooking an elaborate meal sounds fun, other days it sounds absolutely exhausting. On the days I want to put in minimal effort toward making a meal, I usually make some type of pasta dish with veggies and an easy-to-prepare protein. If you're in need of a healthy pasta dinner dish, I GOT YOU with my Caprese Chicken Pasta! Ready in under 30 minutes, this simple pasta dish is bursting with flavor and deserves a spot on your weekly routine.
Why I Eat Pasta (and You Should Too)
My husband loves pasta more than anyone I've ever met. Seriously. In college he was big into cycling, so he needed to fuel up before a big ride and refuel afterwards with carbohydrate-rich foods, and pasta was his go-to. Cycling has taken a back seat over the past couple of years, but Lucas' love for pasta has remained.
Back in college I rarely chose pasta at meal times because I deemed it "unhealthy" (see more on that here), but over the past 2 1/2 years of marriage I've embraced pasta for what it is – a healthful, energizing food – and grown to really love it for these reasons:
It's quick and easy to prepare.
It's versatile and a great carbohydrate and B vitamin-rich base for nearly any vegetable or protein.
It tastes delicious and fills you up when included as part of a balanced meal.
For more on the benefits of pasta see 8 Dietitian Approved Pantry Staples You Should Always Have on Hand.
Healthy Pasta Dinner
Needless to say, Lucas and I both eat a lot of pasta these days. With the weather warming up I've been craving fresh, spring flavors with my pasta. Packed with juicy, antioxidant-rich tomatoes, fresh basil, lean protein from chicken breast, energizing carbohydrates from pasta, and HAPPINESS from fresh mozzarella this Caprese Chicken Pasta is a healthy pasta dinner we're adding to our spring meal rotation!
Prepared as is this recipe serves two people, but it can easily be doubled or tripled (or even quadrupled!) to feed a group or a family. Another option is to pair half portions of my Caprese Chicken Pasta with this Strawberry Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Dressing for a lower carb, veggie heavy meal. You can also use whatever pasta variety and type you like in this recipe - regular, whole grain, lentil, chickpea, etc. I prefer classic fettuccine and bucatini, but angel hair, bowtie, whole wheat penne, and veggie rotini all work well for this recipe. The choice is up to you!
Here's another 30-minute pasta dinner you might like: Lightened-Up Pasta Alfredo
What's in This Recipe?
Tomatoes – contains the antioxidant lycopene
Basil – contains hypolipidemic and antioxidant substances
Balsamic vinegar – contains acid which enhances flavor
Olive oil – contains heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)
Pasta* – contains energizing carbohydrates; wheat, brown rice, chickpea, and lentil pasta varieties are richer in fiber than traditional pasta
Chicken breast - rich in protein, contains iron and several B vitamins
Seasonings – salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
Butter** – provides flavor and prevents sticking
Mozzarella cheese** – contains calcium and protein; provides flavor
Notes: This recipe can easily be made gluten free* with your favorite gluten free pasta. It can also be made lactose free** by using lactose free cheese in place of mozzarella (I like the sliced Yogurt Cultered Cheese from Trader Joes's) or dairy free** by using vegan mozzarella or omitting the cheese and using olive oil in place of butter.
Caprese Chicken Pasta
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large chicken breast, cut lengthwise/horizontally into 2 thinner halves
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
5 oz dry pasta of choice* (I prefer fettuccine or bucatini for this recipe)
2 tsp. butter**
2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese**
Fill a pot with water (4-6 cups) and bring it to a boil.
While the water boils, combine the chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
Preheat 2 tsp. olive oil in a steel pan with a lid at medium-high heat.
Sprinkle each half of the chicken breast evenly with salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder, and onion powder. Add the seasoned chicken to the heated pan and cook on each side for 5 minutes, until browned and the internal temperature reached 165oF.
Meanwhile, prepare the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Strain and mix in the butter for flavor and to prevent sticking.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, place the 1 oz of cheese on each piece if chicken and cover with the lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Divide the pasta among two bowls, top with cheesy chicken, and cover with marinated tomatoes. Dig in!
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