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Clean Out the Fridge Pasta

(recipe, Keri Fisher)


This is the version that we most often enjoy in my house, though of course the specifics vary slightly. Feel free to experiment. If using quick-cooking vegetables like frozen peas or spinach, add them at the end with the beans. Omit the meat for a hearty vegetarian pasta dinner.


  1. 1 lb. orechiette (or any other hearty pasta like penne or ziti)
  2. 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  4. 1½ lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces, or other kind of meat
  5. ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  6. 2 cups chicken, vegetable, or meat stock
  7. 2 Tbsp. salted butter
  8. 4 cups broccoli florets (about 2 bunches) or other combination of vegetables
  9. 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  10. 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  11. 1 can (15 ounces) Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  12. ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  13. Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the chicken.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 1 minute, or until lightly browned (garlic burns easily, so be careful). Add the chicken and red pepper and cook 5 minutes, or until chicken is browned on all sides but not cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Raise the heat to high, pour the stock into the pan, and deglaze, scraping up any chicken bits from the pan. Cook 5 minutes, or until stock is reduced by half. Add the butter. Return the chicken to the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  4. Five minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli to the water. Drain with the pasta.
  5. Combine the sauce, pasta, and broccoli in the skillet. Add the herbs, beans, and Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with grated Parmesan.


Read more about last-minute pasta dinners in the article "Pasta in a pinch."