Lemony chicken, vegetables and pasta

A ‘ready in 20 minutes’ meal with fresh, bright flavours!

This has been one of my favourite meals for decades  but I lost my recipe card (remember when those were a thing??) and I forgot all about it till a few weeks ago. I recreated it as best as I could remember (and likely improved it a little too) and was happy my family liked it as much as I did, especially the light but creamy milk-based sauce. You can prepare all the ingredients the night before, making it a great ‘throw it together in a hurry’ meal. When I know dinnertime is going to be rushed, I even cook the pasta ahead of time, making sure to drain it when it is just barely ‘al dente’ (tender-firm). When assembling the meal, I reheat the pasta by returning it to a pot of boiling water for 90 seconds before draining it and topping with sauce. If you prefer a vegetarian version, this dish is also great with tofu, or just with the pasta, vegetables and sauce.


  • 2 cups (500 mL) dried penne
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces
  • 2 cups (500 mL) small broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) flour
  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine (optional but delicious)
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) minced chives or green onion tops, to garnish


  • Heat a large pot of boiling, salted water. When boiling, cook penne to al dente. While water heats and pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the oil in large fry pan. Sauté chicken over high heat until cooked, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) more oil to pan. Add broccoli and cover pan with a lid. Cook, stirring often, until broccoli is just beginning to soften (you want it still quite crisp), about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from pan; set aside.
  • Add remaining oil to pan. Sauté onion and garlic until tender, about 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Blend in oregano and flour and stir as it cooks for 2 minutes.
  • Gradually stir in milk, about 1/4 cup (60 mL) at a time. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in wine, if using, then stir in cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Return chicken and broccoli to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat until sauce is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  • Drain pasta and divide among 4 serving bowls. Top with sauce and sprinkle with chopped tomato and chives or green onions. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.