While traditional comfort foods satisfy your taste buds and can bring back wonderful memories that make you feel good, they are notorious for containing lots heavily-processed ingredients, bat fats, sugar and too much salt – not what the doctor ordered. Why not comfort your body instead with clean, whole, nutritious foods that aren’t full of health-compromising ingredients?
I love this healthier comfort food recipe because it packs the nutrition of tomatoes and olive oil, and is full of protein from chicken and lentil pasta. The Mediterranean-inspired ingredients in this warming, filling dish make it simple to enjoy a nutritious and gratifying meal.
Prep time: 1 hr
Cook time: 30 mins
*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
- 1 to 1.5 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (alternately, use Crushed Garlic Olive Oil instead of chopped garlic and olive oil)
- 2 Tablespoons Mediterranean spice blend
- 3-6 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 8-oz package (or 1/2 lb) red lentil pasta
- 1 red onion, chopped or sliced thinly
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, whole
- ½ c. artichoke hearts packed in water, chopped
- ⅓ c. parsley and fresh basil, chopped (alternately, use Crushed Basil Olive Oil instead of chopped basil)
- 2-3 Tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese
- Natural salt + pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves
- First, start by making the marinade.
- In a large bowl, combine the cubed chicken, 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, minced garlic, and Mediterranean spice blend; mix well to coat chicken entirely.
- Marinate for 20 min to 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Put the sliced onions and tomatoes in a casserole dish, and toss them with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, and a few grinds each of salt and pepper. Bake them in the oven, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the tomatoes begin to burst, about 15-20 minutes.
- While the vegetables are baking, cook the lentil pasta in boiling, salted water according to the instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- Drain and rinse the artichokes, then set aside.
- Meanwhile, transfer the chicken and marinade to a skillet on medium heat. Brown the chicken on both sides until it is cooked most of the way through.
- Remove the casserole dish from the oven, and add in the cooked pasta, chicken, artichoke hearts, and herbs. Stir to coat and combine them well in the dish.
- Top the entire mix with grated cheese and bake it for an additional 7 minutes until the cheese is a golden brown and bubbling slightly.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with the fresh herbs just before serving.
NOTE: For an added burst of flavor and zest, you can top the dish with a scoop of warm marinara sauce before garnishing it with the fresh herbs and serving.
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