The Mystery Box this month for IHCC was challenging. Very Challenging. I mean:

    Seaweed Interesting!
    Sesame Seeds
    Mozzarella Cheese
    Brown Sugar

One could go with an Asian Flair.

    A Sweet Treat.
      Or a Pasta.

I took the easy way out – PASTA! But easy wasn’t really EASY!! Because then I had to actually find a recipe with at least THREE of the ingredients which is what the CHALLENGE is all about. At least three ingredients in a recipe from one of our past or present chef.

    Jacques Pepin
    Nigella Lawson
    Mark Bittman
    Giada de Laurentiis
    Jamie Oliver
    Tessa Kiros
    Rick Bayless
    Madjur Jaffrey
    Yotam Ottolenghi
    Donna Hay
    Nigel Slater
    Diana Henry

I was thinking Italian so I was thinking Giada de Laurentiis and after about an hour of cookbook and internet research found this recipe. Four Ingredients!!


    Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

I knew it would be good!!

    1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta) {I used a Whole Wheat Penne}
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
    1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
    1 cup shredded mozzarella
    1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup bread crumbs {I found some whole Wheat Panko – worked greatt.}
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl.

Put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the chicken is completely cooked and the onions are tender.
Mix the chicken in with the pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, parsley, salt and pepper.Stir to combine.
Pour the pasta/chicken mix in a greased 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. Mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it on to the pasta mixture.
Dot the top with small bits of butter.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.{Original Recipe}


Okay. This was good. But not great. It needed to be more…well, more Italian. I would have liked it more if there had been more seasonings. Maybe some oregano. Even some Italian seasoning. I would also add more cheese to the dish and a little more liquid. It wasn’t real dry but it was borderline. We liked it enough to make it again but with more seasoning.

Ready for more Mystery. Check out the I Heart Cooking Clubs website and see the rest of the Challenge dishes.