The Chef’s Night Out

Panko Crusted Chicken Breast with Plant-Based Pasta

Everyone needs a lunch or dinner dish that is simple, mouth-watering, eye catching and affordable. If you are working off of an apron string budget, but want more bang for your buck and are feeding four or more people, this recipe is for you.

Healthy eating is a focus in our home. We strive to eat gluten free, very little dairy and even now and then we indulge in the carbs. Pasta is rare in this household, but being a lover of Italian food and professional culinarian focused in Italian cuisine, is not an easy life to live.

Past dishes like this one would’ve included heavy dredging in egg wash, Italian bread crumbs, homemade fattened meatballs and yummy pasta…all fat free of course (enter my sarcasm and smirk). Today’s dish is brought to you with a healthy twist and huge on the flavor profile all within a budget of $15.00-$20.00 total. You read correctly. As I stated before, an apron string budget.


Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: You can either purchased fresh (my preference) or frozen (which you will need to completely thaw before using).

Butter or olive oil: Your decide!  I like the extra flavor of butter, but in this case we are cutting down the fat, so I suggest olive oil.

Seasonings: I included panko breading (gluten free) a blend of garlic powder, salt, black pepper and a touch of dried oregano.

Tomato Sauce: Use the ripest tomatoes or canned whole and peeled tomatoes, but they need to be hand crushed when you remove them from the can. Extra virgin olive oil, and garlic cloves (peeled and chopped). See tomato sauce recipe below. (Olive oil: 4 tablespoons, Parsley: 2 tablespoons, Cloves of garlic: 3 cloves, Tomatoes: 4 pounds)

Barilla Plant Based Spaghetti: Purchased at your local store.

Fresh Basil: I encourage you to purchase fresh basil leaves to cut and garnish your finished dish with. The flavor is a better experience than when choosing to use dried basil.

Olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, & chef knife


Our sauce is going to be from scratch so it will take the most time to prepare. I suggest making this ahead of time due to the amount of time it will take to make the sauce. It is well worth it.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2: Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise, squeeze out and discard the seeds, and chop the tomatoes coarsely into chunks.

Step 3: With a tablespoon of olive oil, brush a baking dish or roasting pan that is just large enough to hold the chunks of tomato in a single layer.

Step 4: Place the tomatoes in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the liquid released by the tomatoes has almost completely evaporated and only a couple of tablespoons of syrupy liquid remains.

Step 5: Heat the remaining olive oil in a sauce pot and stir in the chopped garlic. Stir the garlic for about 2 minutes, until it releases the aroma, and stir in the parsley and cook the tomatoes.

Step 6: Stir the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. This will cause them to break down into a sauce.


Step 1: Pat your chicken breasts dry with a paper towel too remove any extra moisture.

Step 2: Blend together garlic powder, salt, black pepper and a touch of dried oregano. Depending on how many chicken breasts you are making begin with a teaspoon of each. You can always add but you can never take out. Now add it to 2-3 cups of gluten-free panko crumbs and mix well.

Step 3: Fully dredge each chicken breast in the panko mixture. Be sure to completely coat each chicken breast. Place the fully coated pieces of chicken onto a separate plate (I prefer to use a paper plate for this).

Step 4: Pre-heat a medium size saute’ pan, set to medium or medium low, with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. At this point you can add a tablespoon of butter for more flavor if you would like.

Step 5: Once the pan is heated and ready, using a pair of tongs or a fork place each chicken breast gently into the heated pan. *In order to do this in a safe manner, be sure as you place the chicken into the hot pan, you place it down facing away from you. This helps to avoid having any of the oil splash on you.

Step 6: Lightly create a golden-brown color on the outside of each piece of chicken. Make sure each side is golden brown in color.

Step 7: At this point you can do one of two steps. If your pan with the chicken in it, is oven proof, you can place it right into the pre-heated 400 degree oven. If the pan is not made for the oven, then on a separate medium-sized tray, covered in tin foil, place each piece of chicken on it and place it in the oven.

Step 8: Bake the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 365 degrees or higher, but not too much higher, because we do not want to dry the chicken out.

The chicken is going, the sauce has already been made ahead of time. Now would be a good time to begin heating up your sauce on a “low” setting.


Barilla Protein + Plant-Based Angel Hair Pasta

Step1: Don’t follow the directions on the box of spaghetti. I know this sounds ridiculous. If you choose to follow this directions on the box you will end up with mushy spaghetti. Let’s strive to avoid this mistake.

Step 2: Use a generous amount of water. I personally use a 7 quart stock pot filled with 6 quarts of water to cook one pound of pasta.

Geek out” moment: The more water per pasta ratio, the faster the water returns to its boiling point, the faster the pasta will cook. The more water for the pasta, the more room the pasta has, and this avoids sticking. DO NOT ADD OLIVE OIL TO YOUR WATER!

Step 3: Add salt. Do not add the salt prior to the water boiling. Once the water begins to boil, add the salt. Wait a few seconds until the water is at a rapid boil and then add pasta.

Step 4: Cook Al Dente. You do not want to overcook your pasta. Be sure to only cook the pasta until it is soft, but is still slightly chewy. I would recommend testing the pasta by starting at two minutes before suggested cook time.

Step 5: Reserve some pasta water. Before you empty the stock pot of pasta into a colander to strain the water, please be sure to reserve a cup of pasta water for your sauce. Trust me.

Step 6: Do not rinse the pasta with water from your faucet. When we choose to rinse our pasta with water from the faucet, the starch, which we need on the pasta, actually rinses off.

Step 7: Finish off the pasta in the sauce. Place the pasta back into the stock pot. Ladle enough sauce into the stock pot to coat, not drench the pasta. We want to finish cooking the pasta. The goal here is for the pasta to absorb some of the sauce and its flavor.

Step 8: Now add in some of the pasta water a little at a time and gently stir. The starch in the water will help to thicken the sauce.


Your sauce should be heated through, the chicken properly temped and your spaghetti al dente. Now it is time to plate your food.

Step 1: Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 2: Gather your plates.

Step 3: Roughly chop the preferred amount of fresh basil you would like to garnish your pasta with.

Step 4: Place one piece of chicken on your cutting board. Hold it in place with a pair of tongs or a fork and slice the chicken breast on a bias. Place on the plate how you prefer.

Step 5: Place a portion of the pasta on the plate next to the chicken. At this point you can add more sauce if you’d like.

Step 6: Add the fresh basil and fresh parmesan cheese if you prefer.

Finished Panko Crusted Chicken with Plant-Based Pasta with Scratch-made Sauce


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