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Spicy Penne Tossed with Chicken, Broccoli and Chopped Olives


Serves four to six.

  • by from Big Buy Cooking

Kalamata olives enhance any dish with their salty, rich flavor. Here, they add a twist to a basic chicken and broccoli pasta. For a vegetarian option, omit the chicken and add red and green peppers, garbanzo beans, or any other legume or vegetable of your choice when the pasta and pasta water is added to the skillet.

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lb. (about 1 large) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 1/2 lb. broccoli florets, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring gently so the cloves don’t break up, until they become light brown in places and very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rosemary and red pepper flakes and cook until they start to sizzle, about 15 seconds. Add the chicken, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring often, until the chicken loses its raw color, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives.

Add the penne to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until just barely al dente, 1 to 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Add the broccoli and cook until it turns bright green and the pasta is tender, about 1 minute. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and then drain the pasta and broccoli. Discard the garlic from the olive mixture. Add the pasta and the pasta water to the skillet and cook uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring, until the pasta absorbs most of the liquid, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and half of the Pecorino. Serve sprinkled with the remaining Pecorino.

Serving Suggestions

Start the meal with a Mixed Green Salad with Red-Wine & Dijon Vinaigrette

Photo: Maren Caruso

Not bad, but not a keeper. Chicken ended up tough and the lemon zing was too pronounced. See a lot of people improvising with flavors, so maybe a good base for making it your own - but didn't work for me as described.

Loved it! My kids who don't enjoy olives loved it too and gladly took the leftovers for lunch the next day. I added some chopped garlic and chill flakes to the chopped chicken in a bowl, along with the salt and pepper and a little oil prior to stir frying the chicken. Did not use a full 1/2 olive oil either, more like 1/4 cup. Also, used more broccoli then called for and a little more chicken but a little less pasta, to help keep the carbs in check at least a little. Finally, I gave up using wheat pasta some time ago and used my regular kamut pasta, and over all an amazing dish that I will make regularly as it easy, quick and delicious.

YaYa7....I added shallots along with garlic and toasted pignola nuts!! I had to substitute black olives for the calimata olives due to salt and it was very tasty. It's quick and easy and I would definitely make it again...yummy!!!

I love this recipe! It is SO delicious. I was unsure at first, not being a huge fan of olives, but the kalamatas have a great flavour. It is vital to prep all of your ingredients before cooking, because it all comes together very quickly once you start cooking. I made it twice within two weeks. There was plenty to share and for leftovers. I added a bit more chicken and broccoli the second time and preferred that. I will make this again and am excited to take the advice to add sundried tomatoes!

I loved this dish. The flavors came together very nicely. The lemon juice and olives made it. I did find, however, that there was too much olive oil, and ended up taking out about 1/8 cup. Othewise, it was fabulous.

This is delicious. It has an intriguing combination of tastes thanks to the broccoli, olives and pecorino romano (a must!). I might add a touch more hot peppers next time. This is definitely a keeper.

Until now, every dish I've made from Fine Cooking has had the "wow" factor. My fiance' really liked it, but it was just okay in my book and I doubt I make it again. The pasta also needs cooked several minutes more than noted.

Taste-wise this recipe is worth 5 stars, but making it, while easy, was a bit of a challange on my own (a lot going on) which is why I only gave it 4 stars. This will definitely join the mix of our regular meals, but I'll make sure to recruit my husband for some help. Great meal & we both look forward to eating it again!

Loved this dish - easy to make and the olives and lemon add great flavor.

Simple fast recipe with wonderful flavor. Like previous reviewer, I too added sun dried tomato to add a little color and amp up flavor. A keeper!

This dish has a wonderful flavor. I used a little less penne and threw in about a 1/4 of a cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes but probably wasn't necessary. Cooking the broccoli with the pasta is really a time saver. Definitely use pecorino cheese, it's delicious.

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