Pasta with Grilled Chicken, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

For the Chicken

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

½ cup salt – I use sea salt…table salt is ‘saltier’ so you may need to use less

½ cup sugar

olive oil



1.     Prepare a brine by dissolving the salt and sugar in 1 ½ quarts of water or so.  I use a gallon sized zip-lock bag.

2.    Lay each chicken breast half between sheets of plastic wrap and pound them to half-inch thickness.

3.    Put the chicken in the brine mixture, close the bag and put it into a bowl.  Let the chicken brine in the refrigerator 45 minutes to an hour.

4.    Prepare a grill.  Drain the chicken and coat liberally with olive oil.

5.    Grill the chicken until cooked through…approximately 3 – 4 minutes per side.  Take off the grill, season with pepper and let rest a few minutes before slicing.

For the Pasta

1 lb. pasta – I use pennoni which is a longer penne shape, but any shape is fine

1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes

1 large bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

olive oil




parmigiano – I prefer shredded to grated


6.    Heat pasta water and season with salt.

7.    Slice tomatoes in half, sprinkle lightly with salt, and place in colander over a bowl.  Leave for one half hour or so.  This will draw some of the liquid out of the tomatoes.

8.    Cook the pasta until al dente.  Reserve a half cup cooking liquid, then drain.

9.    Return the pasta, half cup cooking water, 2 tablespoons butter and several glugs of olive oil to pot and toss.

10.  Slice chicken into quarter inch strips and add to pasta

11.   Drain and add tomatoes to pasta

12.  Just before serving, toss in basil, pine nuts and shredded parmigiano

13.  Season with pepper – you shouldn’t need added salt at this point.