This easy combination is a healthy and flavorful chicken sauce for pasta. Included in the sauce are chicken breasts, zucchini, tomato sauce, chopped vegetables, and seasonings. The zucchini is "hidden" in the sauce with the chicken, which makes it an excellent choice for picky kids.
Feel free to adapt the recipe with different vegetables. Use some chopped or sliced eggplant in the dish, or add a cup or two of fresh chopped spinach. Diced or matchstick cut carrots can add a subtle sweetness to the dish, and they blend in nicely with the tomato sauce and other vegetables. Celery is a good option as well; celery and carrots are classic ingredients in some Italian sauces.
Replace the crushed tomatoes with a 24-ounce jar—or larger—of prepared spaghetti sauce if you'd like, and cut back on the amount of dried oregano If you enjoy a spicy arrabbiata style sauce, add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce mixture.
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cubed (or use boneless chicken breasts)
- 2 medium onions
- 1 medium (or 2 small) zucchini
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (1-ounce) packet country gravy mix (or chicken gravy mix)
- 1/2 teaspoon dry basil
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano (or to taste)
- 1 pound spaghetti (linguine, angel hair pasta, etc.)
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken tenders—or chicken breasts—into 1-inch cubes and put them in the crock pot.
- Peel the onions and dice them.
- Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices.
- Slice the bell pepper in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and white ribs. Chop the pepper coarsely.
- Peel the garlic and chop or slice it thinly.
- In a 3 1/2-quart (or larger) crock pot, combine the onions, zucchini, bell pepper, and garlic with the chicken. Gently toss to blend the ingredients.
- In a bowl, combine the crushed and diced tomatoes with the gravy mix, basil, and oregano. Mix wells and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
- Cover the pot and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.
- About 10 minutes before the sauce is ready, cook the pasta in boiling salted water following the package instructions. Drain well.
- Spoon the pasta sauce over the hot cooked spaghetti and serve along with a simple green salad and grilled or toasted garlic bread.
Because condensation tends to water a sauce down over the long period of cooking, a packet of gravy mix lends its thickening power. Another way to thicken the sauce is with tomato paste. Skip the packet of gravy mix and add a 6-ounce can of tomato paste. Tapioca is another excellent thickener for slow cooker dishes. Substitute 2 tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca for the packet of gravy.