I was at one of those big warehouse stores on my lunch break the other day and of course there where free samples everywhere. It is never a good idea to go to one of these stores hungry. There was a vendor giving samples of their pretty tasty chicken meatballs. They also claimed to be all natural and made with no preservatives. Being a sucker for that marketing ploy, of course I purchased their sweet and spicy super-sized box and am now the proud owner of about 100 meatballs! What am I going to do with that many meatballs when there is only two of us?
I had to think outside the box or in this case the go-to staple of spaghetti and meatballs. I wanted to make a meal using my new but was not sure how. After giving it some thought, I came up with this recipe. I call it quick healthy chicken ragu with rigatoni.
My inspiration for this dish came from our past trip to Marco Island, Florida back in April/May. We always eat at this wonderful Italian restaurant called DaVinci’s. If you are ever in Marco Island, I highly recommend you give them a try. The one night, yes we ate there a few times the two weeks we were there, I ordered the Paccheri Napolii. I just loved the fresh tomato sauce with basil and the pasta reminded me of a larger sized rigatoni. I have been craving that dish ever since. So I decided to make my version of it.
What I remember most about the dish was the fresh basil and how it paired so well with the tomatoes. Lucky for me, I was able to use fresh basil from our herb garden. I used mostly the spicy meatballs from the pack because that is hubby’s preference. He always likes hot over sweet. You could easily substitute the meatballs for chicken/turkey sausage or leave the meat out all together. I used rigatoni because it reminded me of my inspiration dish, but any style pasta and variation – regular, whole wheat, or gluten free – will due. I got a meal for two out of this recipe plus had enough for lunch the next day.
What is one of your favorite restaurant dish?
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 fully cooked meatballs, chopped
- 1/2 pound rigatoni pasta
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon (or more) of red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- grated parmesan cheese, optional
- Start cooking pasta according to package directions. I normally cook it till the pasta is al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add in meatballs to warm them up for about a minute. Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices plus seasoning and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce thickened, 8-10 minutes.
- Mix together sauce, basil and pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add reserved cooking water as needed.
- Transfer to plate and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.