Name My Pasta and Win a Great Cookbook! (Chicken Pasta Alfresco)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


One of the most enjoyable aspects of cooking for me is playing around with different ingredients and creating a new dish that I really, really like. I always feel such a sense of accomplishment when I’ve done this. Last Tuesday, I was just coming off of the June Daring Bakers challenge and my weekly Tuesdays with Dorie assignment and I was wiped! My dislocated elbow was throbbing so badly, I thought it would fall off. The pain must have dulled my other senses, because I drove home from the office and right past the grocery store. I didn’t even notice it as I whizzed by. It wasn’t until after I was home and had already changed into some comfy pajamas that I remembered I hadn’t planned anything for dinner. Since the natives were beginning to get restless, I raided my fridge to see what I could come up with.
I found a container of bocconcini, which are mini mozzarellas packed in water, some mushrooms, a peaked-looking shallot and a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I rooted around some more and dug out a small container of pesto sauce too. I also had a basket of beautiful ripe Campari tomatoes on the counter and a small jar of kalamata olives in the pantry.

I chopped up the tomatoes and tossed them together with the mozzarella, garlic, fresh basil, olives and olive oil for a nice Caprese salad. I decided to use the rest of my ingredients to make a sauce for some pasta, so I cut up the chicken and sauteed it with the shallot and mushrooms. Then, just for good measure, I mixed in the pesto sauce.

Now, I don’t know exactly how it happened or why, but after I drained the pasta, it somehow found its way into the bowl with the Caprese salad. Ooops! I don’t even remember doing it! I told you I was really tired. Maybe I blacked out for a minute. Maybe I had a mini-stroke. Maybe, I had a few deviant cells lurking in my brain and they decided to screw around with me. I don’t know, but at that point, it seemed like the only logical thing left to do was to dump the chicken mix in there too. So I did. And you know what? It was good. In fact, it was more than good. It was great!
…. ..

…. ..

Strangely enough, even though they were intended to be two different dishes, all of the ingredients of each worked brilliantly together. The sweet and juicy of the tomatoes, the spicy of the pesto and the salty of the olives all blended with each other and melded into one helluva pasta sauce! One taste was all it took to know that I needed to post about it.

As I tried to write out the recipe for my accidental success, I realized that I had no idea what to call it. There were too many different components to the dish! I toyed with a few different names, but nothing sounded right. So, dear readers, I bring it to you. Please! Help me give my poor pasta a name!

Read through my recipe, look at the pictures and let your creative juices flow! Leave your suggestions of what to name this dish in the comments section of this post by next Thursday, July 17 at midnight EDT. My esteemed panel of judges and I will go through all of your submissions and choose the name that we feel captures the personality of the dish best.


The person with the winning submission will win a copy of Mario Batali’s fab new cookbook, Italian Grill. Italian Grill is the ultimate resource on Italian grilling and features over eighty terrific recipes for appetizers, pizza and flatbreads, fish and shellfish, poultry, meat, and vegetables. It’s the must-have cookbook of the season!

So, what are you waiting for? Put on your thinking caps, turn on your imaginations and……


Name My Pasta!!!

… ..

No Name Pasta

1 lb short pasta of your choice (I used penne.)
4 medium-sized tomatoes, roughly chopped or one pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 12-ounce container bocconcini
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Small handful of fresh basil, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
1 7-ounce container pesto sauce or equivalent of homemade pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Romano cheese for topping

Bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, bocconcini, olives, garlic, basil and 1/4 cup olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. When pasta is cooked, add it to the bowl, toss and set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add diced shallot and chicken and saute until chicken is lightly browned. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until everything is cooked through.

Remove from heat and stir in pesto sauce. Add to bowl with tomatoes, bocconcini and pasta. Mix well and top with grated cheese.

50 responses to Name My Pasta and Win a Great Cookbook! (Chicken Pasta Alfresco)

  1. On July 11, 2008 at 8:51am, noble pig said...


  2. On July 11, 2008 at 8:54am, Cynthia's Blog said...

    Susan’s Accidental Easy Caprese Pasta Suprema

    I love when this happens. I too have done the seriously stupid and had seriously good results.

  3. On July 11, 2008 at 8:59am, Mary said...

    How about Acquaio Pasta. I looked up the word for kitchen sink in Italian, because this pasta is full of Italian ingredients and there’s everything but the kitchen sink in it.
    It looks fantastic too!

  4. On July 11, 2008 at 9:45am, Mike of Mike's Table said...

    I originally was going to say Caprasta, but saying it loud and/or misreading it sounded like some sort of hybrid of “crappy pasta” which is absolutely not what I intended (caprese + pasta), but being so mature, I chuckled anyways. Capresto pasta? Caprese Pasta Salad? Capricious Caprese?

  5. On July 11, 2008 at 9:57am, KELLY said...

    I was going to think of a name, but I like Mary’s so much! Great idea!

    Sounding My Barbaric Gulp!

  6. On July 11, 2008 at 10:23am, The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

    How about Pasta al Dispersore di Cucina (kitchen sink pasta)

    Oops. Mary kind of said it better than I did, didn’t she?

  7. On July 11, 2008 at 11:07am, Manggy said...

    Penne alla dolore… Pasta made when the pain gives you temporary dementia 😛 I’m glad a happy accident came out of it, my accident prawn… But next time, just curl up in bed and call for Chinese/pizza! You need a break!

  8. On July 11, 2008 at 11:20am, PheMom said...

    Hmmm – How about Antipasto Pesto Chicken Salad? Either way – it looks wonderful!

  9. On July 11, 2008 at 12:05pm, Topher said...

    Pasta pollo di bagnomaria

    I just kinda like the word bagnomaria and it means to cook in a double boiler but I think you could generalize it more as a “2 pot” combination like you did in your recipe.

  10. On July 11, 2008 at 12:27pm, Paula said...

    Whatever you call it, I’ll call it “good”! Great looking pasta! Yum!

  11. On July 11, 2008 at 2:14pm, Appoggiatura said...

    How about:

    Penne Caprese with Chicken and Olives

    or Bocconcini and Penne Pasta Salad?

  12. On July 11, 2008 at 2:58pm, Deborah said...

    I’m not good at being creative, but it sure does sound delicious!!

  13. On July 11, 2008 at 3:08pm, Katrina said...

    I was going to say something like Pantry Pasta, but most of the things came out of your fridge and I can’t think of anything real creative with that. Hmmm….I’ll have to think some more.

  14. On July 11, 2008 at 6:23pm, BMK said...

    Looks really good. I would go with Everything but the Kitchen Sink Pasta Toss

  15. On July 11, 2008 at 8:36pm, Peter M said...

    Pasta ala Susanna!

  16. On July 11, 2008 at 9:40pm, Tartelette said...

    “Elbow Fixing – Mind Blowing Pasta” or “Fix Your Elbow – Use a Thigh Pasta”.

    I know those won’t win but the dish look mighty tasty!

  17. On July 11, 2008 at 11:40pm, Zen Chef said...

    Oooh! Let’s call it “Basta Pasta”!.. Like for something you throw together in a sudden moment of inspiration (..and genius!)

  18. On July 11, 2008 at 11:49pm, Luv2Eat said...

    How about “Pasta Aglaia” (Aglaia is Greek for splendid harmony and this dish not only looks splendid, but the colors and textures work well!).

  19. On July 12, 2008 at 7:45am, Ginny said...

    I agree with mark…Pizza or Chinese is clutch in such a situation…my name “Can I come over for dinner?” Pasta because I really want to come over for dinner!!! :)

  20. On July 12, 2008 at 1:05pm, Michelle said...

    Pasta insalata caprese

  21. On July 12, 2008 at 1:49pm, CookiePie said...

    I would call it… tasty! Looks yummy :)

  22. On July 12, 2008 at 6:12pm, Andrew's Mom said...

    Pasta Mangia!

  23. On July 12, 2008 at 10:40pm, giz said...

    I just created something similar – stunning and yummy. You need to call it the Vegchica Salad for the busy cook.

  24. On July 13, 2008 at 7:15am, Joanna said...

    1- Fresh Garden Pasta Salad
    2- Garden Pasta
    3- Summer Dream
    4- Ecstasy


  25. On July 13, 2008 at 9:41am, StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

    Wow! I’m seeing some great suggestions for naming my pasta dish! Thanks to all who have commented so far! There are still 4 more days left, so keep those ideas coming! 😉

  26. On July 13, 2008 at 1:00pm, Dawn said...

    Gosh that looks good! A lot of goodies in there. A name? Let’s see, I would call it (your last name) salad or (your last name) house salad.
    estate fresca salad (means summer fresh)

  27. On July 13, 2008 at 3:06pm, Heather said...

    Hmmm I vote for Sicilian Summer in a Bowl, because when I go to Sicily to visit family, they make stuff like this a lot!

    If you’ve got any free time, please check out my first blog event that I’m hosting:

  28. On July 13, 2008 at 3:14pm, Jescel said...

    1-Presto Caprese Salad Ala-Susan (presto here to mean “quick”)
    2-Susan’s Fresh Mediterranean Salad
    3-Caprese n’ Pasta Summer Salad

    Hope these are good enough! Either ways, pasta looks real good!

  29. On July 13, 2008 at 8:46pm, Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

    How about………
    Kiss My Dislocated Ass Summer Pasta Salad

  30. On July 14, 2008 at 3:37am, Mochachocolata Rita said...

    Yep, “Sicilian Summer in a Bowl” sounds heavenly!

    Susan, I cant wait for the next season of Top Chef huhuhuuu

  31. On July 14, 2008 at 8:20am, Parker said...

    You may have inadvertently named it… I like
    Helluva Pasta or the full version Helluva Caprese Pasta Salad.

    Whatever it gets named, looks and sounds delicious. Sometimes great dishes are made through big errors:)

  32. On July 14, 2008 at 8:24am, Tongue-Tickle said...

    i love your blog!
    beautiful pictures, well done :) please visit mine sometime –
    you’ll be suprised to see you have been featured by our food ed! :)

  33. On July 14, 2008 at 8:41am, Joanna said...

    Fellini Capellini

  34. On July 14, 2008 at 9:54am, Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

    How about Poor Man’s Penne. Whatever-you-call-it-pasta… looks fantastic!!!

  35. On July 14, 2008 at 12:44pm, Melinda said...

    Too Pooped to Shop Pasta. Catchy, yeah?
    Busy mums will all want the recipe.

  36. On July 14, 2008 at 12:47pm, Gabi said...

    Okay I’d say Pasta Pollo La “Bomba”:
    B)occoncini, O)live, M)ushrooms, B)asil,

    I do like the Acquaio name though too :)

  37. On July 14, 2008 at 1:26pm, White On Rice Couple said...

    I don’t know, I think I’ll need to eat a plate of it first to really UNDERSTAND what you are trying to accomplish here. How about giving me TWO heaping plates, along with a glass of wine. You know, you gotta have some wine with this beauty of a dish. After that, I’ll certainly need a nice bowl of your drunken cherry ice cream to finish off the meal. That way I’ll know how well your dish will fare after a dessert course. :)

    So I’m slowly imagining right now, the amazing flavors here…chew..chew..swirl wine…sip wine…chew…lick plate…pick up dropped olive off of floor…pop in my mouth…

    I think I would call it Pasta di Susan Suprema!
    Susans supreme pasta!

  38. On July 14, 2008 at 2:27pm, Leslie said...

    Provencal Pasta Salad has my vote.

  39. On July 14, 2008 at 4:59pm, Brilynn said...


  40. On July 14, 2008 at 8:43pm, amhoopes said...

    Black Christmas Pasta
    Black for the olives…and Christmas for the beautiful red & green colors too!

  41. On July 14, 2008 at 9:43pm, Heather said...

    I’m not going to try to come up with anything clever, but it looks like a great conglomerate of some of my favorite flavors. Cin cin, darlin’!

  42. On July 15, 2008 at 8:32am, Patricia Scarpin said...

    Life Savior Pasta!
    I know it would save my life right now, Susan, since it’s almost noon here in Sao Paulo, I’m starving and I won’t be eating anything delicious like your food! :(

  43. On July 15, 2008 at 10:58am, Tempered Woman said...

    I sucking at these “give-it-a-title” posts cause my creativity is just completel defunct. I can whip you up a spreadsheet tho! 😉
    I had to comment to say I *love* Mary’s kitchen sink idea. Very clever.

  44. On July 15, 2008 at 4:15pm, Proud Italian Cook said...

    How about “Pasta Concoctione!” You know, pasta that you concocted with what you had. lol

  45. On July 15, 2008 at 8:30pm, Nicole said...


    Wyisiwig Wonder Pasta (what you see is what you get… an acronym in design)

    Incidente Felice Fusilli (change your noodle)
    Happy Accident Pasta (Another design/art term)

    Penne Amalgamazione – Penne Amalgamation!

    Hodge Podge Penne!

    Well that’s my 5 cents (inflation you know)

  46. On July 16, 2008 at 10:56am, Sophie said...

    I hope I’m not too late for this, I love Batali. So, as for the name, just to make this pasta even more fun and eclectic, I’ll give it a latin name (haha!): Pasta Deliciosa (simple but true, delicious pasta!)

  47. On July 16, 2008 at 12:55pm, gina said...

    pasta fresca

  48. On July 16, 2008 at 1:57pm, Maria said...

    Perfection Pasta or Pass the Pasta Please

    Great blog! I love it!

  49. On July 17, 2008 at 12:03pm, Sil BsAs said...

    Mmmm… “My Pantry Pasta” or “Penne with Loquehabia Sauce” hehe… wonderful blog, keep going…

  50. On July 17, 2008 at 6:08pm, Christa H. said...

    Chicken Pasta Alfresco

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kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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