Balsamic vinegar gives this recipe that extra special something and there are some people who love it even without the chicken. This takes your tomato pasta to new levels of culinary deliciousness.
- 14 ounces / 400g penne pasta (I use wholewheat)
- 1lb 1½ ounces / 500g chicken breast, skinless and boneless
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 12¼ ounces / 350g plum tomatoes
- ½ ounce / 15g basil, plus extra to serve
- 3 cloves garlic
- 7 ounces / 200g passata
- 3½ fluid ounces / 100ml balsamic vinegar
Cook your pasta according to packet instructions (ensuring it’s still al dente when cooked). When it’s finished, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of the olive in a large saute pan and dice your chicken.
Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and brown until cooked through. Once cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and wipe the pan clean with some kitchen towel.
Throw your tomatoes, basil (leaves only), garlic, passata and remaining tablespoon of olive oil into a food processor with a good amount of seasoning and blitz until smooth.
Put into the saute pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, put your balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan on a medium heat and reduce to a glossy syrup.
Add your balsamic reduction to your sauce and stir well to combine completely, before returning your pasta and c h i c k e n to the pan.
Keep heating and stirring until everything is combined and piping hot.
Serve with some torn basil leaves.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is made from the juice of freshly harvested white grapes (usually the Trebbiano gape) which is then boiled down to 30 per cent of its volume to create a concentrate known as mosto. This is fermented with a slow aging process that concentrates the flavours. Stored for years in wooden casks, it becomes sweet, viscous and more concentrated – the amount which goes through evaporation is traditionally referred to as the “angels’ share”. Nothing can be drawn for 12 years and the traditional aging periods are 12, 18 and 25 years – hence the cost.