Single pan meals are usually designed to cook gently by themselves after just a few moments’ preparations, and this healthy, low-fat, low-sodium recipe is no exception. Carrots, French beans, celery, and onion provide color contrast and are cut to emulate the spikiness of the penne. White wine enhances the aromatic flavor of the whole dish. One-pan meals are ideal for everyone, from families to bachelors. The quantities in this recipe can be halved for couples or for bachelors making a meal to eat and one to save (why to spend time making one meal when at the same time you can make two, or more?)
For cooking this dish, choose a large skillet or frying pan with a lid, or ideally a straight-sided sauté pan. If the pan is too small, the dish will not cook evenly and may stick, so use a largish pan even if you have the quantities in the recipe.
The vegetables and the chicken are cut into strips to match the spikiness of the penne.
- 1 tbsp (15 g) of olive or canola oil
- 12-16 oz (375 - 500 g) of chicken breast
- 8 oz (250 g) of baby carrots
- 2 large stalks of celery
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves of garlic or 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 8 oz (500 g) of frozen whole green beans
- 1 lb (500 g) of penne
- 2 glasses of white wine
- 1 pint (250 ml) low-fat, low sodium chicken stock or 1 pint (250 ml) of water plus 1 chicken stock cube/1 tbsp of powdered bouillon
- 2 tsp (10 g) of dried mixed herbs
- 1 bay leaf
- Black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Slice the chicken breast into thin strips and fry in the oil on Medium-High heat until lightly browned on all sides.
2. Meanwhile, cut the baby carrots lengthways into quarters. Peel the onion and slice it into quarters lengthways and then lengthways into quarters again (i.e., 16 slices in all). Cut the celery into segments 2 inches long and then cut each segment into four to six pieces, lengthways, according to the width of the segment. Peel and thinly slice the garlic; then roughly chop it. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and cook until the onion becomes translucent – 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the penne and cook for a moment before adding the wine (stand back from the dish slightly when doing this because the wine will seethe as it hits the hot pan).
4. Turn down the heat to Medium-Low and add the herbs, the bay leaf, and the pepper. Stir the dish to coat the penne in the wine.
5. When the penne has absorbed most of the wine, add the frozen green beans and the chicken stock. Turn up the heat again to Medium-High until the mixture comes to the boil. When it boils, turn the heat down to Low, cover the pan and leave it to simmer for 10 minutes.
6. After 10 minutes, check the penne. It should have swelled in size but still be slightly chewy (this is ‘al dente’). Cook it for a couple of minutes more if necessary. Remove the bay leaf and adjust the seasoning, if required. Add a little water if the dish is drying out and stir it to prevent it from sticking.
7. When the penne is cooked, serve with Parmesan cheese for sprinkling.
Why Cook with Wine?
Wine has always been an important additive to many classic recipes. The alcohol volatilizes away very quickly during the cooking process and leaves its distinctive flavor. Expensive wine is not necessary; an inexpensive wine with a decent flavor from Aldi stores or the Gallo Family range will work its magic just as well. Wine contains little sodium and no cholesterol and enhances, or can even replace, the cooking bouillon. So try adding some wine to your recipes on a regular basis; you’ll appreciate the results.
A Low-Sodium, Low-Cholesterol Meal
The only sodium in this recipe essentially comes from the chicken stock or bouillon. If you are looking for a healthier lifestyle and to reduce your sodium intake, choose a low-sodium ready-made chicken stock or similar bouillon powder or cubes or follow the link for low-fat home-made chicken stock, which contains virtually no sodium. The 3 to 4oz ((100 – 125 g) of chicken breast per portion provides 75 to 100mg of cholesterol, one-third to half the allowance for a low-cholesterol diet.