Leftover Chicken Pasta

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June 1, 2013 by Dewi


Don’t let leftover chicken go to waste and make this quick, herby pasta. Perfect for lunch or dinner.

It’s lunchtime and the boy is hungry. I take to the fridge in search of ingredients. I open the white door and find a plate of cooked chicken breast left over from last night’s dinner, result. What to cook with it? I spot some smoked bacon and grab it. I take my search to the cupboards and find tinned tomatoes and a bag of dried penne. I can see a recipe coming together. But this dish needs something else to set it off, but what? I remember the new oregano and parsley plants in the garden and clench my fist in relief. Armed with a pair of scissors, I head outside as the recipe writes itself.

When you’re making a simple and quick dish like this, you really rely on herbs to inject the flavour. Oregano – known to some as the ‘pizza herb’ – is a bit of a brute, so be careful not to use too much or it will overpower the other flavours in the dish. The reason I used parsley, oregano and bay in this recipe is simply because I had them to hand, but basil or rosemary would be great here too.



Serves 2

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts (approx. 260g) chopped into inch-sized cubes
  • 150g dried penne (or any pasta tubes)
  • 2 rashers smoked bacon cut into strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed using the side of the knife
  • 1/2 tin of tomatoes (approx. 200g)
  • Small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped from the stalks
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves




  • Place a large saucepan of salted water over a high heat, bring to the boil and cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.


  • Meanwhile, in a medium sized pan, fry the bacon over a medium-high heat in a little olive oil until it starts to turn golden and add the garlic.
  • As the garlic begins to colour, add the chicken and the bay leaves and cook for a further couple of minutes.


  • Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes.


  • After 10 minutes or so, add the fresh herbs and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Once the pasta is cooked (it should be al dente) drain the water and return to the saucepan. Be sure to reserve a cup of the starchy water in case the sauce needs loosening.


  • Add the chicken and the tomato sauce to the penne and mix thoroughly. Add a splash of the pasta water if you think it’s needed, and a quick drizzle of good olive oil. Dig in.



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