Rotini literally means "twists" or "spirals," but the twisted shape of this pasta isn't merely decorative. The shape of rotini means that this pasta holds onto a lot of sauce, and at eight to 10 minutes it cooks up quickly. To make a rotini and chicken dish even healthier, buy tri-color rotini. These boxes include traditional pasta as well as pasta made with spinach and tomato. Not only is there a nutritional boost from the vegetable pastas, kids like the different colors.
A pasta salad is an easy way to pack your meal with healthy vegetables, and adding chicken turns this dish into an entrée. On a hot summer day, add fresh broccoli, cherry tomatoes and chopped peppers to a bowl of cooked and cooled rotini. Cut cooked chicken into cubes and add it to the salad along with your favorite creamy salad dressing and a handful of chopped basil. For a warm salad, grill zucchini, eggplant and peppers and add them and the chicken to a bowl of hot rotini. Add creamy dressing to finish the dish.
A casserole of baked chicken and rotini is comforting and filling on a cold night. Cook rotini and chicken and shred the chicken into small pieces. Combine the pasta and chicken with tomato sauce, spinach and whatever roasted vegetables you like. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle some low-fat shredded mozzarella and dry dressing and seasoning mix on top. Bake the dish until the mozzarella is melted and slightly brown. If you prefer a creamier sauce, mix in cream of chicken soup in place of the tomato sauce.
Making soup from scratch may sound complicated, but putting it together can take only minutes. Chop onions, carrots and celery and put them in the bottom of a large soup pot with cubed pieces of raw chicken and several cups of chicken stock. Add several cups of tomato puree and bring the mixture to a boil. When the chicken pieces are no longer pink inside, add dry rotini and continue cooking the soup until the pasta is cooked through. Add dry dressing and seasoning mix to season the soup and serve it with crusty bread and a green salad with creamy dressing.
Preparing a simple sauce to accompany rotini is easy to do while the pasta cooks. Pound chicken breasts flat so they'll cook quickly and add them to a skillet along with olive oil and chopped garlic. When the chicken is just about cooked through, add diced tomatoes and fresh peas or chopped broccoli. Cook the mixture a minute longer and toss it with the pasta and creamy salad dressing. Finish the dish with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.