Grilled Chicken Pasta with Eggplant and Mushrooms

by Emily Kemme

Eggplant is beautiful this time of year.  The firm, purple vegetable calls to me from across the produce section:  “Come stroke my smooth, unblemished skin!  I promise to add valuable nutrients to your next dinner.”  It’s true, it will.  Low in fat and sodium, high fiber content and stuffed with beneficial vitamins and minerals, don’t ignore this vegetable.  Invariably, I obey the summons, which results in an overabundance of eggplant in my refrigerator.  What to do with it?  The days are long gone where all an eggplant could become was Eggplant Parmesan, loaded with fat and fried breadcrumbs.  I’m not knocking the dish, but I want you to know that there are options, many of them.  To help you become familiar with this sultry vegetable, try combining it with grilled chicken and sautéed mushrooms.  Toss with your favorite pasta and you’ve got a satisfying end-of-summer one dish meal.  It’s light on kitchen time and utilizes the grill to keep you outside.  If you’d prefer a vegetarian option, skip the chicken and grill tofu.  Or, you can sprinkle the sautéed vegetables with feta or goat cheese.

Recipe for Grilled Chicken Pasta with Eggplant and Mushrooms

4  boneless chicken breasts

1  large firm eggplant, unblemished, peeled and diced into 1″ pieces

1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed and quartered (these are the little sisters of the giant portobello; they generally are the same price as the white button variety, and add an earthy taste to the mix)

1/2  c. low-salt chicken broth (or vegetable broth for the vegetarian option)Recipe for Grilled Chicken Pasta with Eggplant and Mushrooms

1/2  c. dry white wine

1 T fresh thyme leaves, stripped from their stalks

Tip:  to do this quickly, rinse thyme and pat dry.  Hold stalk in one hand and with the other hand, using thumb and index finger, gently strip the leaves from the stalk, running in the opposite direction of growth.

6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb pasta of choice (I prefer penne, mostaccioli or my personal favorite, campanelle (little ears) for this textured sauce)

extra virgin olive oil for grilling and sautéing

For Chicken

Heat gas grill to high.  In the meantime, bring chicken to room temperature.  This allows the muscles to relax and the end result will be juicier.  Brush chicken with olive oil, cover and grill for 15 minutes, turning once, or until internal temperature reaches between 130-140°F on a probe thermometer.  Place on clean plate and cover with tin foil.

For Pasta

Heat large pot with water to boiling.  Add 1/2 T. salt.  Add pasta carefully; I generally toss in a couple of pieces to “tame the monster” before I pour in the rest.  It seems to satisfy the roiling waters.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot.  Pour about 3 T. olive oil over pasta and toss gently; this will prevent sticking, even if you have leftovers.  Cover and set aside.

For Vegetables

Heat 1/3 c. olive oil on medium high heat in large, heavy pot until it shimmers.  Add eggplant, reduce heat to medium and let sit until it begins to brown.  Gently toss eggplant until it absorbs oil and is lightly browned on all sides and begins to lose its greenish color.  If it begins to smoke, add olive oil as needed.  Add mushrooms and toss to brown.  When mushrooms release their liquids, sprinkle with thyme leaves and add chicken broth and wine.  Stir to combine and cover, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add basil, stirring gently.

Remove grilled chicken from underneath its tent and place on cutting board.  Pour any juices which have collected into pot with vegetables and stir to combine.  Dice chicken into 1″ pieces.  Add to vegetables.  Toss gently.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over pasta in large shallow bowls.  I promise you’ll never think of eggplant the same again!

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4 comments

Maryam October 21, 2017 - 11:56 am

Best thing about this recipe was the grilled chicken! Very nice and juicy.

Reply
Emily Kemme October 21, 2017 - 12:59 pm

Thanks! I’m glad you liked the method.

Reply
Victoria April 24, 2013 - 7:30 pm

I just made this tonight and it was fantastic! I used leftover grilled chicken, dried Italian seasoning since that’s all I had on-hand, and left the skins on the eggplant since I kind of like them. Thank you for an easy, tasty dish that satisfied my craving for indulgent food on a weeknight.

Reply
Emily Kemme April 25, 2013 - 7:07 am

Great idea to use leftover chicken for this recipe. I’m glad you liked it! Thanks!

Reply

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