Chicken broccoli ziti is one of my favorite weeknight Italian-American dishes. Relatively quick and easy to make, this version of this dish is loaded with flavor. With many versions of this recipe on the internet, I am going to share some tips that I like to do that set this recipe apart.
Tip #1: Utilize the broccoli
The first thing that you’re going to want to do is boil some water in a large pot. Once boiling, add the broccoli florets (aka the bushy heads) and boil for exactly three minutes (do not overcook). Once done, remove the broccoli and reserve 3/4 cup of this broccoli water (to be added to our sauce later). Then, cook the ziti in the large pot with the remaining broccoli water. Between reserving some of the broccoli water for our sauce, and cooking the ziti in the broccoli water, we are maximizing the broccoli flavor for this dish.
The next thing we’re going to do once the ziti is done cooking is prep and cook the chicken. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook them in a large pan over medium to medium-high heat. We are looking to get some nice browning on the chicken while also cooking them to about 90%-95% done – we’ll finish them off later and don’t want to overcook them. Remove the chicken and allow it to rest for a few minutes while we make the sauce. After resting, slice the chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside.
Tip #2: the flavor enhancing ingredient
Using the same pan that we cooked the chicken in, let’s start making the sauce. The sauce includes the following ingredients:
- Can of diced tomatoes
- Red pepper flakes
- Heavy cream
Are any of these ingredients surprising to you? If so, I am willing to bet that it’s the pesto! This is my secret (or not so secret anymore) ingredient that really turns this dish up a notch. The cheesy-basil flavor from pesto compliments this dish extremely well. Trust me with this one – add the pesto!
Putting it all together
Once the sauce is finished cooking, you’ll need to combine it with the chicken, broccoli, ziti, reserved broccoli water, and some pecorino romano. Toss well and then allow it to simmer for just a couple of minutes. If any of the chicken is still slightly undercooked, this simmer would be the time to get it fully cooked. And that’s it! A super quick and easy dish that’s delicious – perfect for a weeknight in my opinion. Bonus alert: the leftovers of this dish are even better! The flavors enhance overnight in the refrigerator and will be better the next day. Give it a try…you won’t regret it.
Chicken Broccoli Ziti
Broccoli & Ziti
- 1 bunch Broccoli florets only
- 1 lb Ziti
- 3/4 cup Reserved water
- Olive oil
- 1 lb Thin sliced chicken breast
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Garlic powder to taste
- Oil for cooking
- 1 head Garlic minced
- 1 15 oz Can of diced tomatoes
- 4 tbsp Pesto sauce
- 1 tsp Dried rosemary
- 1 tsp Dried oregano
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 cup Heavy cream
- Pecorino romano or parmesan; to taste
Broccoli & Ziti
- In a large pot, boil salted water. Add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes. Remove broccoli and set aside.
- Reserve 3/4 cup of the water used to boil the broccoli and set aside.
- Add the ziti to the pot with the remaining boiling water (same that was used to boil the broccoli). Cook until it is al dente (slightly firm). Add olive oil (to prevent sticking) and set aside.
- Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until it is browned on both sides and 90%-95% cooked through. Remove from the heat and allow to rest on a cutting board. After resting for 5 minutes, slice into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
- Add the mixed garlic to the same pan that was used to cook the chicken. Cook until aromatic but not browned.
- Add the diced tomatoes, pesto, dried rosemary, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. With a wood spoon or whisk, scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil, and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir frequently,
Put it all together
- Combine the chicken, broccoli, ziti, sauce, and pecorino romano in the large pot. Mix well and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes. If there are any pieces of chicken that are still not fully cooked, finish them during this simmer.
- Remove from the heat. Mix well one last time. Serve immediately and enjoy!