For the past couple of months, Tom and I have been training for the A1A (Beach-front avenue!) Half Marathon and Sunday was the Big Day. For me, training was both exhilarating – you feel so accomplished when you’ve run a 10K before breakfast – and painful – patellar tendinitis isn’t particularly fun. Training made me hungry, made me hobble around like an old lady, made me stop drinking beer and wine on Saturday nights (the worst part by far) and made me actually stop wearing heels.
On the Big Day, we woke up at 3:30AM and had some homemade power bars and bananas and were on our way. The weather was great – 60 degrees – and we started our run heading east toward the most beautiful sunrise over the ocean. I didn’t have my best run, but Tom ran with me (almost) the whole way and my official time was 2:05:15. We crossed the finish line with our families cheering us on and then celebrated with a nice, big breakfast of French Toast, Eggs, Bacon and Bloody Marys. All in all, a wonderful, completely exhausting day.
So, what does all that have to do with Baked Chicken & Spinach Pasta? Well, it was all part of our pre-race meal. This dish is one of those things my mom made all the time when I was growing up and my brother and I loved like crazy. It’s a super simple recipe: sauteed chicken with lots of garlic, olive oil, spinach and white wine all tossed with pasta, covered with cheese and baked. Delicious. So, I made a batch and my mother-in-law made Tom’s favorite spaghetti and meat sauce and we all carbo-loaded on Saturday night before the Big Day. Perfect pre-marathon food, but good pretty much all the time.
And now, I’ll happily return to beer and wine on Saturday nights, heels at work and a lot less pasta recipes on the site.
1 lb. pasta (I used whole wheat shells)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs.), diced
1/4 cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
5 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a large pot of water to boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, salt it and cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, set a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, heat the olive oil then add the chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides – about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and simmer with the chicken until it’s fragrant and begins to turn golden – about 3 minutes.
Add the salt. spinach and white wine to the skillet and cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes, or until the spinach begins to wilt. Toss the contents of the skillet with the pasta and place in a casserole dish. Cover with cheese and bake for 25 minutes.
Makes about 8 servings.