Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken Thighs with Smoky Roasted Peppers and Baked Spinach Ricotta Rigatoni

I threw a dinner party for a small group of friends on Saturday night and made a couple dishes that were a big hit. Best of all, they were easy to make! If you've never made chicken thighs before I would highly recommend it. When cooked in a sauce or stew, you can hardly tell the difference between breast meat, and they are so much more affordable. With skinless thighs the fat difference is negligbile. I cooked mine in a smoky tomato sauce with homemade roasted peppers. I had never roasted my own peppers before, but am so glad I did for this recipe, as they provide a much smokier taste than the jarred kind. And it was so easy to do! Alongside I served a baked spinach and ricotta rigatoni that I prepared in the morning and simply baked off before my guests arrived. We also enjoyed salad, veggies and bread on the side. A great dinner!

Chicken Thighs with Smoky Roasted Peppers
A delicious one-pot meal with smoky, savory flavors.
Serves 4-6

4 bell peppers (2 red, 1 yellow, 1 green)
2 pounds trimmed skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt & Pepper
Flour, for coating
3 T olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 fresno chile pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1 28 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes in their juices
Warm crusty bread, such as Ciabatta

Char the bell peppers under the broiler or over an open flame. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool. Peel the skins with paper towels, leaving a little char on the peppers for a smoky flavor, then seed and slice the peppers lengthwise into 1-inch strips.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper and coat in the flour. Heat 2 T olive oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on each side, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan then add the onion and some salt. Cook until softened, 4-5 minutes, then add the fennel seeds, garlic and chile pepper. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the wine to deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes and mash them.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper, then cook at a rapid bubble until reduced, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, stir in the chicken and peppers, cover and cook for 5 mintues to finish cooking the chicken. Uncover, stir and serve from the pan with lots of bread for mopping.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

                                        Peppers after roasting, before peeling skin

Baked Spinach Ricotta Rigatoni
An easy make-ahead baked pasta with creamy texture and lots of spinach.
Serves 6

1 pound rigatoni, or other small pasta
1 container whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese
6 oz. fontina cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
6 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
½ cup whole milk, half & half, or 2% milk
1 pound bag frozen spinach, thawed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook pasta until al dente- do not overcook. Drain pasta and pour in a large bowl and drizzle with some olive oil.

Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the thawed frozen spinach, ricotta cheese, fontina cheese, ½ the Parmesan cheese, garlic and ½ cup of milk. Process until thoroughly combined. Stir into pasta.

Drizzle olive oil in a 9x13 baking dish, then pour in the pasta mixture. Spread evenly in pan and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and beginning to brown on top.

Recipe by Sarah Lang (adapted from Food and Wine)


  1. Yum! That looks like a great recipe :)

  2. Is it adapted if it's plagiarized word-for-word?