I like to think of this type of dish as a layered dish. One layer is your starch, another layer is your vegetable and then the third layer is your protein. This is a complete meal and when we layer all three types of food (our protein, carb and veggie) you get so much flavor and end up feeling full and very satisfied when the meal is over.
To get the most health benefits you will want to pack a layered dish with as many healthy foods as possible. A good example of this would be chicken breast (a lean protein) veggies roasted in a little olive oil and some seasonings and something like brown rice or whole grain pasta. There are some great whole wheat pasta options out there and if you are a bit averse to the whole wheat you could always try Barilla’s Plus Pasta. My girls don’t like whole wheat pasta, but they don’t notice a difference with the Barilla Plus.
Another layered meal option might be brown rice, sautéed peppers and onions with some salsa and jalapeno and then some black beans or grilled chicken (or both). Top that off with a bit of cheddar cheese and cilantro and you have another great “layered” meal option.
This particular meal is one of my absolute favorites and I love all the flavors in here so much. I roast one red pepper, an onion and a bag of frozen broccoli from Trader Joe’s in some olive oil and their Everyday Seasoning (any seasoning blend will work here.) I also pound out some chicken and marinate it in some balsamic vinegar with olive oil, salt and garlic. I cook up 16 oz of whole wheat pasta and then toss that with some olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic and salt. If you like a little heat you can add some red pepper flakes. Layer everything and then grate some Parmesan over top. This is so good, I can’t even tell you….you just have to try it!
My tip for grilling chicken is this. Trim the chicken as much as you can and then toss it into a Ziploc bag with your marinade. Take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you are going to grill it and pound it out with the flat side of a meat mallet right in the bag. You might have to move the chicken around a bit as you are pounding your chicken out and make sure there are no air pockets when you do this. Then let it sit to come to room temperature. Take it right out of the bag with some tongs and put it on the grill. Make sure to let as much of the marinade drip off your chicken as possible before you place it on the grill. I also like to massage the marinade into the chicken as much as possible after you pound it out. Also, I usually put a decent amount of salt in my marinade. I really think doing all of this makes my chicken exceptionally moist and pounding it out makes it cook nice and evenly. I will never place another piece of chicken on the grill again without pounding it out and this method (with the Ziploc bag) makes the process really easy.
So here is the recipe. I have to say, this is one where you can really change things up and you almost can’t go wrong. The one thing you do still have to be careful of is portion size. I find that if I go easy on the starch and heavy on the veggies I still get at least one or two pieces of pasta in every bite. Enjoy!
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 16 oz whole wheat pasta (I like to use rotini or penne)
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp dried basil
- 1 red pepper cut into strips
- 1 medium onion cut into strips about the same size as your pepper
- 1 lb frozen broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning (any seasoning blend will work here.)
- Trim chicken of all fat and place in a ziploc bag with next 5 ingredients. Mix everything in the bag and make sure that the marinade is evenly distributed to coat the chicken. Let this marinade in the fridge for about 2-3 hours ideally. About 30 minutes before you are ready to grill, take the chicken out of the fridge and pound out right in the ziploc bag to about ½ inch thickness (make sure there are no air pockets in the bag when you are doing this and use the flat side of the mallet.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set grill to medium high temperature.
- Place veggies on a large baking sheet and toss in olive oil, everyday seasoning and salt. Toss this mixture until everything is thoroughly coated. If you feel like your veggies need more oil, add, but be careful not to add too much (just enough to coat evenly.)
- Roast vegetables for about 20-25 minutes stirring every ten minutes.
- Grill chicken until thoroughly cooked and then slice lengthwise.
- Cook pasta according to directions and when done, toss with the remaining olive oil, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper.
- Layer the pasta, roasted vegetables and then sliced chicken. Grate parm over top and enjoy!