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Spicy Penne Tossed with Chicken, Broccoli and Chopped Olives

Maren Caruso

Servings: four to six.

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.

This recipe is excerpted from Big Buy Cooking.


  • 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.

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


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Reviews (11 reviews)

  • user-404959 | 10/19/2015

    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.

  • karaseksrus | 09/11/2012

    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.

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