Pasta with Chicken, Lemon & White Wine — A Meal to Take to a Friend // Also, Spatchcock Chicken

pasta with chicken, lemon & white wine

Do you ever find yourself needing to prepare a meal for a friend? Perhaps a new mom? Or someone on bed rest? Or just someone in need?

As comfortable as I feel in the kitchen, cooking for these sorts of occasions makes me panicky. I never know what to make. I know comfort food is the name of the game, but I worry that my comfort food might not comfort others.

Fortunately, I have friends who thrive in these situations — friends who can throw casseroles together in their sleep; friends whose pantries never fail them at these critical moments; friends whose freezers at any given time are stocked with a half dozen of these sorts of meals already. It was one of these such friends who passed along this recipe after I mentioned I had no idea what I was going to make for my friend who had just returned from the hospital with a new baby girl. I didn’t even have to note that this new mom was avoiding dairy and a few other foods. Amanda knew exactly the recipe I needed.

This baked pasta with chicken has become a favorite in my house and not just for passing along to friends in need. Unlike so many baked-pasta recipes, this one contains neither cheese nor bechamel. The sauce, made with white wine, olive oil, lemon, herbs and garlic, tastes, without the fishiness, like the broth that bathes linguine and clams in giant porcelain bowls in classic Italian restaurants. It’s both light and comforting, and it demands lots of warm crusty bread.

I love making this recipe when I have leftover roast chicken, which recently has come by way of spatchcocking. Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? It’s incredibly easy and rewarding, the result being, so far as I can tell, perfect roast chicken in about half the time.

sauce ingredients for pasta with chicken, lemon & white wine


chicken breasts, ready for the oven

just-baked chicken breasts

pasta with chicken, lemon & white wine

Pasta with Chicken, Lemon & White Wine
Serves 4 comfortably

Notes: I have made this recipe several times now, and I especially love it with leftover roasted chicken (as pictured in the first photo of the post). I recently discoverd spatchcocked chicken (see recipe below), which tastes just like roast chicken but cooks in half the time. This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover chicken: just pull any meat off its bone and place it in a Tupperware until you’re ready to prepare this meal. As noted in the recipe, however, I think many people prefer chicken breasts (as pictured in the photo directly above this recipe), so I’ve included instructions (not that any of you likely need them) for cooking breasts below.

If you’re bringing this to a friend, a nice addition is a loaf of crusty bread because there is lots of nice sauce to sop it all up with.

1/2 lb pasta*
1 1/2 lbs. cooked chicken**
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons marjoram ***
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Place a large pot of water on to boil. (I don’t add salt because there is a teaspoon of salt in the recipe, which is ample, but feel free to add a dash if you wish.) Cook pasta al dente — I cook it very al dente because the pasta eventually baked for 25 minutes covered in foil. Drain and set aside.

2. Dice chicken (or shred if you’re using roast chicken) and set aside.

3. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend.

4. If using the meal immediately: Preheat the oven to 350F. Place pasta and chicken in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over top. Toss to combine. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until everything is nicely heated through.

If passing the meal off to a friend: Either place all of the ingredients in a disposable foil roasting pan (or one of your own pans if you don’t mind not having it on hand for a few days) or a resealable freezer bag — this meal can be frozen for up to 3 months. Label and date and provide reheating instructions: Thaw in refrigerator overnight before baking. Bake covered in foil for 20 to 25 minutes.

* I like shells (or anything like shells) because they catch all the goodness from the sauce, but the original recipe called for spaghetti, so use whatever you like.

** I think you’ll find that many people prefer chicken breasts to dark meat, so this is what I do when preparing this for others: Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place three boneless skinless chicken breasts in a roasting pan. Coat them lightly with olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper on both sides. Tuck in any herbs you have — rosemary and thyme are nice. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until just cooked through. You don’t want to overdo it here because the whole mixture cooks together in a casserole pan for 25 minutes covered in foil. Err on the side of slightly under-cooking the chicken. If you are like me and prefer dark meat or like a mix of both dark and white meat, spatchcocked chicken works nicely here. See below for a recipe.

*** I’ve never added this bc I never have it, but my friend who passed along this recipe, loves it, so use it if you have it.

pasta dish, ready for the fridge or freezer

Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? Have you ever tried saying spatchcocked without laughing? Still can’t do it. But fortunately the giggles don’t get in the way of my spatchcocking:
spatchcocked chicken

cutting up and roasting spatchcocked chicken

Spatchcocked Chicken

1 whole chicken
Olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
A few sprigs rosemary and thyme, if you have them

Preheat oven to 500ºF. Place whole chicken breast side down on a work surface. Using poultry shears (or a knife), remove the backbone. Drizzle some olive oil in a large roasting pan. Place chicken in the pan breast side up and press down firmly to flatten. Season all over with kosher salt and pepper. Tuck any herbs you have on hand under the skin and under the chicken itself. Drizzle with olive oil and rub all over. Roast for about 30 minutes. If serving right away, let rest 10 minutes before carving. If you are planning on pulling meat from the bones, let rest until cool enough to handle.

cut up spatchcocked chicken


  1. says

    Ali, thanks for posting this! I am always looking for recipes that can be frozen and given to people when they need some help preparing meals. This looks delicious – maybe I’ll make one for myself and one for someone else?

    • says

      Darcy — haha, I love it. This is a good one to know. Whenever I made it now for a friend, I just make double, and then we have dinner taken care of for at least two nights in a row.

  2. says

    I am always looking for one dish meals that are quick and easy for those nights when we don’t feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen. This looks fantastic, and I love that it doesn’t have cheese!

  3. Trish says

    One of the reasons I love reading your blog is because so many times I find myself thinking, “I know. Me too!” As was the case today. I have so many favorite recipes but when I need to make something comforting for someone else I panic, too. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It looks comforting, delicious and healthy. I have spatchcocked a chicken and broken a pair of shears doing it. But it is such a timesaver!

    • says

      Trish — so nice to hear that I’m not the only one that panics in these situations. I think we probably worry more than necessary, but this recipe, I am finding, is a good one to know — it has been well received by everyone. And oh no about those shears! It was a bit of a struggle. I’m wondering how awkward it would be to try using a knife. Might have to try that next time.

  4. says

    Loving the non-cheesy casserole here! Awesome. Also.. awesome salt container? Is it a fish? Never tried spatchcocking, but it looks amazing and life changing.. will have to try!!

    • says

      Jaimie, hi! I know, I think many people appreciate the lightness of this recipe. And yes, that salt cellar is a fish — it’s my fave. My husband brought it home from Mexico during high school. Apparently someplace in his parents’ home in Minnesota is another one — a frog! — that I am dying to get my hands on. Spatchcocking is as much fun as it sounds :)

  5. says

    Thank you soooo much…I am going to visit a friend with a new baby this weekend and I’ve been debating what to make. I have plenty of great recipes up my sleeve, but it’s hard to find something that suits people’s different tastes, can please a toddler, is easy to heat up, portable, and still a treat and not just a bland old casserole.

    My standby “new baby” meal has been a recipe for Chicken and Spinach Lasagna which I found on the Crisco website of all places (it doesn’t contain shortening, FYI). It’s always been a crowd pleaser but I’m anxious to try something new!

    • says

      Alyssa — thanks so much for sharing your go-to recipe. I could definitely use some additions to my repertoire in this category of cooking. Funny that the recipe doesn’t contain Crisco — all the better really — and that sounds delicious. I am going to direct commenter Julia to that recipe as well. How do you think it would taste without the chicken? Julia is looking for a vegetarian recipe.

  6. Julia says

    This looks delicious! Would u happen to have any ideas of what to make for a vegetarian who was a new mom? I am drawing a blank! If u have any ideas would love to hear them.

  7. Mama Poule says

    Any meat or veg soup that freezes well (so preferably without dairy) packaged into single serving containers is great to take to a new mom. Why single serving containers? Because it takes care of lunch for her during the day while she is home alone with the baby, but can also be dinner on a night of inconsolable screaming (coupled with salad or cheese and bread or whatever…) The small containers are also easier to fit in small or already full freezers. Lasagna is another good one (meat or veg) for single serving freezing! And single serving here means what a normal person eats and not the USDA serving…
    Individually wrapped cookies or brownies etc for her afternoon tea or coffee are good too, they stay fresher that way.

    • says

      Mama Poule — you are so wise! And I can attest that I don’t think anything is more comforting for me at lunchtime than a bowl of soup, so I would be thrilled to receive a few single serving containers filled with soup. What a treat. And I can also attest to having to fix myself a few midnight snacks during the months following my daughter’s birth…she was not a good sleeper. Having soup on hand would have made those nights a little more bearable. Cookies and brownies and anything sweet are also wonderful ideas — I have such a sweet tooth when I’m nursing. Thanks so much!

  8. laura says

    In response to the vegetarian comment: I made this recipe and substituted the chicken with lots of mushrooms, shallots, and peas the other night. Not the same tastes, but a hit all the same! The peas did lose their bright green-ness during the baking period, so perhaps another veggie would work better for those who like to photograph their food. :)

    • says

      Oh Laura, thanks so much for reporting in with your experience. Love the idea of adding lots of mushrooms and shallots (and peas despite the color change) in place of the chicken. Maybe the peas could be added at the very last second? Did you use frozen? Perhaps if they were added in the last five minutes or even just when the foil is removed, they might retain their greenness — for the photographers in the crowd (you are funny :)) — while adding some more flavor, too.

  9. says

    Another comment for Julia – I made the arancini mac and cheese the other night, sans bacon but with 4 coarsely chopped deseeded and very ripe tomatoes, which I doused with salt and pepper, olive oil and a little chopped thyme before stirring in with the pasta. I used bay instead of saffron (as I had none but have a lovely bay tree) and the result was spectacular. I’m a breastfeeding mum of three. If you brought that dish to me just after I’d given birth (or any time for that matter), I would kiss you.
    Another great veg dish is eggplant parmiagiana. It’s a lot more work, but if you have the space in your freezer it’s worth making a few, as it’s perfect for those nights for when you cannot be bothered cooking but want something wholesome, tasty and satisfying.

    • says

      Mandy — Thank you so much for this nice comment. One, I love your additions/changes to the mac & cheese recipe — sounds divine. And two, love the idea of eggplant parmigiano as a gift for a new mom — I would have lept into somebody’s arms if they had brought me that after giving birth. What a treat. Your recipe looks heavenly. Can’t wait to try it.

  10. Naomi says

    I made this last night and it was great – I was thinking for a vegetarian alternative you could sub broccoli or broccoli rabe (or add it to the chicken).

    • says

      Naomi — wonderful to hear this. And I think broccoli is a great idea. I would love to have a little broccoli added to the dish with the chicken — it would make the meal feel a wee more complete.

  11. Lizzie H says

    Thanks for another great recipe! I had to restrain from putting cheese in it. Glad I didn’t as the end result didn’t need it at all. I did throw in some butternut squash that I had sitting in the fridge, it worked perfect.

    • says

      Lizzie — so great to hear this — I know, I would be inclined to throw cheese in here, too, but it really doesn’t need it. Love the idea of adding some butternut squash to beef it up a little bit. So, did you just add cubed butternut squash to the mixture before you put it in the oven? In other words, did it cook in just 20-25 minutes?

  12. Lizzie H says

    I had the squash already cut up in half inch pieces and I spread it on a baking sheet at 400 for 30 minutes before putting it in the casserole. It had cooled by the time I added it. Then I baked the whole thing at 350 for 20 minutes. The sweetness of the squash really complemented the other favors. Looking forward to eating again for dinner tonight!

    • says

      Lizzie — Thanks so much for reporting back! Love this idea. I actually have a butternut squash from my CSA that I desperately need to use. Might just have to do this.

  13. lizzie says

    This recipe is one of the best you have ever printed…… would be wonderful at room temp in the summer also. To.die.for.

    • says

      So happy you liked this Lizzie! Love the idea of serving it room temp in the summer, perhaps with some cherry tomatoes and basil and roasted red peppers? Maybe that’s too much :)

  14. Allison says

    Hi Ali, Allison (formerly of FTUSA, now of Numi Tea) here! I just wanted to say hello and thank you for this wonderful recipe. My family just got some bad news and a meal delivery like this will be a nice dose of comfort. I still read this and enjoy every post, and I hope you’re well! :)

    • says

      Allison — wonderful to hear from you as always, and I am so sorry to hear about the bad news with your family. Yes, a nice dose of comfort always makes a difference. I hope everything at Numi is going well for you! I’m working on a quinoa post for FT — hoping to get it up next week sometime.

    • says

      Carol — I would just suggest using 2/3 cup more chicken stock. A little bit of flavor may be lost, so you could add a little more lemon juice or even a splash of white wine vinegar. Hope that helps!

  15. says

    Can I make a suggestion? Try changing the chicken for any type of shell (clams, coquinas, cockles…), the taste is divine, I cook the shells with salted water (so the sand in the inside comes out) and I use that water (filtred to get rid of the sand) to cook the pasta. While I put the cooked shells in a pan and mix it with the white wine, some garlic and parsley. Then I add the pasta to the pan. Absolutely delicious, try it!

  16. Maren says

    Just pulled this out of the oven — it smells divine. We added frozen peas before baking for a little more green. Love the shellfish idea, we were thinking it would also go really well with lump crabmeat instead of chicken.

  17. Beth Appel says

    Made this for my brother who was recovering from surgery. It was wonderful, except, I forgot about how much smoke this would produce. It was lovely though! Yours is my favorite personal food site!

    • says

      Beth — Oh no! Was the smoke produced during the chicken-roasting part? Did you roast it Zuni-cafe style? I’m glad you liked the dish, but smoke and a splattered oven is never fun. Thank you so much for your nice comment. You are too sweet to say so.

  18. Christina Anderson says

    I made this for dinner tonight!!! I did the Spatchcock chicken and my daughter and I loved eating the skin. (we know it was bad for ya but who cares when it tastes that good). We took your advice and used some Italian bread and I will defiantly be making this for dinner again! I took a pic so that I could post it here but there is no where to post it but I will defiantly post it on Facebook with your link. thanks for the awesome dinner idea. (I didn’t use all the chicken) I froze half of it and going to use when making more dinner this week. :)

    • says

      Christina — So glad to hear you ate the skin! There is nothing like good, crispy skin … too many people avoid it. And I’m so happy you like this recipe! Definitely post the pic to FB — I would love to see it! And how nice you have dinner for later this week already partially prepped. Thanks for writing in!

    • says

      Alison, I know, isn’t he the greatest? My husband brought him back from Mexico when he was a senior in high school. I wish I had hundreds more — I would love to do a giveaway with him. He might be my most prized kitchen gadget/tool/trinket. Hope you get around to trying this recipe… it’s SO good!

  19. Kathleen Swenson says

    I have made a version of Spatchcocked chicken. It’s easy and delicious, hot or cold.

  20. Ann Lynn Rose says

    I saw the article in today’s FLS, visited your website and absolutely can’t wait to try some of your recipes myself! Everything looked so delicious it’ll be hard to pick the first ones.

    Thank you for your inspirations….

  21. Noi says

    Had a whole chicken in the freezer and was wondering what to make for dinner. I found this site for making chicken in 30 min. And it turned out pretty good (added my own ingredients of course). It was very moist too. My family loved it.

  22. Judy H says

    Hmmm….the sauce in this recipe sounds very similar to a piccata sauce, except for the marjoram. I’m sure I’d like this! I’d probably toss in a few capers.

    I’ve never heard the term “spatchcocking,” but I do that sometimes when I grill chicken. I butterfly it, season it on and under the skin, and put it on my smoker, between the fire and the vent. I start it with the skin side up, and turn it over when it is firm enough to turn, using two sets of tongs. I can grill other things over the direct heat, and finish the chicken off to a light crisp over the fire just before removing it from the grill/smoker. It makes for a tasty and juicy bird! Let it set a few minutes before cutting the pieces for serving so that the juices won’t all run away.

    I’ll have to try your casserole! I have some leftover chopped turkey in the freezer that would work well in this. I love chicken piccata, but hubby doesn’t care for much, so I’ll probably hang onto this recipe to try when he won’t be home!

    • says

      capers are a wonderful idea! I can’t believe I’ve never thought to try that…they would go so well with all of the other flavors. Yes, definitely similar to a chicken piccata sauce, and it also reminds me of the sauce for a linguini with white clam dish. I love this kind of thing. I guess this will be a great thing to whip up when hubby is out of town :) or to bring to a friend. I have made this for so many friends who have had babies or are just in need of some lovin. Definitely trying the chicken on the grill next summer. Sounds fun and festive. Hope you’re having a good weekend. THanks for writing in :)

  23. Shayne says

    Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. I have a totally novice question, What is a good white wine to use in this recipe? Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc? I’m not a wine drinker! Thank you!

    • says

      Both of those would be great, but honestly, you could use any white wine here. I typically use a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc because I prefer those to chardonnay, but again, so many different white wines could work here. hope it turns out well for you!

  24. says

    Hi there would you mind letting me know which web host you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a honest price? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

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