Two of my favorite Italian meals are eggplant and chicken parmesan. Each of the dishes can be time consuming though, and after I get home from work, I just want to eat! I was reminscing about some of the things I ate when I was younger, and one of those things was Hamburger Helper. When I was in middle school and my mom was working, she'd let me cook dinner one night per week. Usually I would make a casserole (similar to Shephard's Pie) or Hamburger Helper with some vegetables or a salad. I eventually graduated onto more complicated dinners in high school, but when I was 12, I could make a mean casserole!
I love one pot/skillet meals because it makes cleaning so much quicker, and sometimes it's nice to have a big bowl of something warm and comforting! At first I was going to make it just chicken parmesan, but I wanted vegetables, so I decided to combine the two. I kind of did this by trial and error because I cooked the pasta right in the skillet, and I wasn't sure how much liquid it would need. I figured the mushrooms (which aren't traditional in either dish, but I love them and I had a pack in the fridge to use, and they're in many Italian meals) as well as the eggplant gave off a little liquid even after I sauteed them, so after adding the pasta and additional liquid, I did go back and check it every few minutes. If you add all of the liquid at the beginning and it's too soupy, you can easily let it simmer uncovered for a few more minutes to cook off, or you can add more if it's too dry. This dish is pretty foolproof!
I'm sure there's some flavor of Hamburger Helper out there that is similar, but I don't want to eat powdered tomato sauce and whatever else is in there that I can't pronounce! I'm sure kids will love this dish as well, the vegetables can be ground in a food processor and hidden, but I love veggies so mine was super chunky. And I love the little Piccolini wagon wheels, but any short cut pasta can be used in this dish. I made a large batch of marinara a few weeks ago and had it frozen in 2 c. containers, but you can also use a nice jarred sauce.
Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan Skillet
2 tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. ground chicken breast
1 red onion, sliced
2 medium eggplant in 1" cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
2 c. marinara
4 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz. mini wagon wheel pasta
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat.
Add EVOO and ground chicken, break apart with a spatula and brown.
Add onion, eggplant and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook for 5-8 minutes, until vegetables are browned and soft.
Add Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, marinara, stock and pasta, stir well.
Bring to a simmer, cover, turn heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
Check for liquid level and pasta doneness.
Add more stock if necessary, or simmer uncovered if too thin.
Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.