Due to budget cuts and my continual tendency to overindulge at the grocery store, I’m trying to create only recipes wading through what’s currently available in my fridge and pantry. It’s a great process for spring cleaning as well as creating new space for future bounty. This recipe is quite similar to a Mediterranean pasta  I blogged about last fall, only it requires a few less ingredients.
Pitted Niçoise olives are my very.most.favorite type of olives, but you probably only have access to them if your grocery has an olive bar. They’re similar in color to Kalamatas, but smaller and with a more earthy, less astringent taste, IMO. Kalamatas would certainly be an acceptable substitute if they are crowding up your refrigerator, though! I also prefer Niçoise olives for snacking with a glass of bold red wine.
Montasio Cheese hails from the northeastern corner of Italy. It has been awarded a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) from the EU ensuring only cheese made from this specific region can bear this name. It is an excellent grating cheese. I purchased some for an herbed frittata I made recently, not realizing I already had an unused block at home (hence the necessity for paring back the fridge). I absolutely loved the flavor of this cheese over hot pasta. It struck me as slightly less nutty than a parmigianino reggiano with a more smooth and synthesizing flavor. You could certainly grate another hard cheese in a similar fashion without tracking down the Montasio, but if you have the means, I highly recommend it.
This recipe also used skinnless boneless chicken breasts, since they were on hand. You could certainly use split breasts if it suits you or even shred the meat from a grocery rotisserie chicken for ease!
Penne with Chicken, Niçoise Olives, Capers and Montasio Recipe
4 oz dried penne
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
Emeril’s Chicken Rub
3 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp pitted nicoise olives, chopped
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp grated Mantasio
fresh chives, snipped with scissors
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season both sides liberally with Emeril’s Chicken Rub then sprinkle on a pinch of kosher salt. Add about a tablespoon of grapeseed oil to skillet, let warm one minute, then add the chicken breasts. Brown on each side for about 3 minutes to a nice golden color. In a sauce pan, bring chicken broth to a boil, then add browned chicken breasts. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 35 minutes, then remove chicken and shred with using two forks.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook 10 minutes or to package directions. Drain. Mix in shredded chicken, capers, olives and Montasio. Stir to combine. If no longer warm, heat in microwave about a minute to serve warm. Top with snipped fresh chives.