Chicken Penne Marinara

Chef's notes:

Combining a bit of leftover roast meat with some pasta and sauce is a simple concept and a great way to use up leftovers. It reminds me of some of the recipes I created while I was broke and going to college, as opposed to broke and running a website. Using leftovers efficiently is a finely honed skill–one that I developed while preparing staff meals from mysterious, sometimes sketchy, and almost always poorly labeled leftovers. Some of you cooks know what I’m talking about. I almost never throw anything away now. Which is good because I can’t afford to be wasteful. This recipe doesn’t have to be made with leftover roast chicken; you could certainly roast a bit of chicken specifically for the recipe. That’s what I did.


  • ½ chicken, or 2 chicken quarters, or 2-3 boneless/skinless breasts
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs: thyme, sage, marjoram, basil, oregano, tarragon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 T butter
  • 28 oz canned tomato
  • ½ tsp parsley + a bit for garnish
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ½ pound penne pasta
  • 10 cups water + 1 T salt, to cook the pasta in
  • Sour cream or creme fraiche for on top, or shredded cheese

Chicken Pasta Recipe: Herb-Roasted Chicken Cut Up and Mixed with Penne Pasta and Homemade Marinara Sauce

  1. Roast a bit of chicken or use your leftovers. If you have leftover chicken or other leftover meat, just chop it up into edible sized pieces and skip to the next step. Otherwise, season a bit of chicken with salt, pepper and some herbs, and roast it in a 400-degree oven until it’s done. This half chicken took 45 minutes. For more information about roasting chicken, read How to Roast a Chicken.
  2. Make a quick and simple marinara or tomato sauce. This marinara sauce borders on tomato sauce, as I’ve added onion and carrot. But oh well! Anyway: fry the onion, carrot, and garlic in a bit of butter until soft. Then add the tomato and cook for 30 minutes. Then stir in the basil and parsley and puree with a stick blender, if you want. A chunky sauce would be good, too. Maybe even better.
  3. Cook the pasta to al dente. As soon as the tomato sauce and the chicken are ready to go, cook some pasta in salty water until it’s al dente (little bit of resistance in the middle). Then stir in the chicken and the hot tomato sauce. Stir to combine and get everything coated with sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add some more herbs if you want.
  4. Finish the pasta and heat up the chicken. You could cook the mixture over low heat for a few minutes to heat up the chicken. But that would be boring. A much better idea would be to heat up the oven to 350 degrees F, put the mixture into a sprayed casserole dish, and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. You could even top it with cheese and bread crumbs for extra fun.

Tips & Tricks

  • This recipe could be made with some chopped-up chicken that was pan-fried in butter with onions, too. There are lots of options. Just saying.
  • Mix in some shredded cheese before baking the casserole for a few more calories and a lot more flavor.
  • I say that my marinara is borderline tomato sauce because true marinara is made with fresh tomatoes, a bit of basil, maybe a bit of salt, and that’s it.