A lightened-up chicken and spaghetti meal with bags of flavour! This Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta is great for when you're craving carbs, but you're trying to eat lighter. It comes in at 521 calories, and is syn-free if you're following Slimming World!
Ahhh spaghetti. Such a simple ingredient, yet loved the world over. Served in the classiest restaurants and the cheapest little cafes - it's one of the best staples money can buy.
I probably love it too much. I can easily put away as much as Chris (my 6ft husband), and served with a rich tomatoey and chicken sauce too? Just give me the pan and a fork.
Fortunately, with it being January (and after all that Christmas indulgence) this is a lighter recipe. No I'm not swapping out the spaghetti for courgetti (zoodles), just reducing the pasta amount a little, and using spray oil and lots of veggies, plus a few extras additions for a rich and satisfying flavour.
I've always been one to go up and down in weight. I don't yo-yo constantly, I tend to diet for a couple of months every year or two, just when my clothes are starting to get too tight, and I can feel myself huffing and puffing when running up and down the stairs.
Last year was definitely a year for putting on weight. Chris and I put ourselves under too much pressure, working crazy hours (and making tonnes of recipes for our blog and freelance recipe work - meaning lots of indulgent delicious food was cooked), and as a result our diet suffered.
We fueled ourselves with coffee and sugar and now we're finding we constantly feel lethargic with lots of cravings.
So naturally we're doing the boringly predictable thing of dieting whilst starting at a new fitness plan!
I'll keep you updated (are you interested in seeing regular updated in my Instagram stories?), and you'll see some lighter recipes on the blog, but of course I'll still be making some naughtier things too - for the occasional weekend treat!
What you'll need
How to make it:
We start by frying chicken thighs in a little spray oil until browned. Then add onion, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until that onion is nicely softened and starting to turn translucent.
Add in chopped red pepper and garlic, mushrooms, a crumbled stock cube (extra flavour!), tomato puree and oregano. Then in goes a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes.
Let it all simmer away for 15-20 minutes while you cook the spaghetti. I'm using 75g (2.6 oz) of spaghetti per person to stay below that 550 calorie range. Then top the drained spaghetti with the chicken and red pepper sauce and a sprinkling of basil leaves. Add a few chilli flakes too if you like it a little spicy.
Or if you prefer, you can mix the chicken and sauce into the pasta and serve topped with basil.
Can I make it with chicken breast instead of thighs?
Absolutely! I like chicken thighs in this recipe as they're more tender and flavourful - which is great for lower calorie cooking. Chicken breast will still taste great though, and I often use them too.
Other types of pasta:
I really like spaghetti in this dish, but you can replace with tagliatelle, linguine or pasta shapes.
More lighter meals (around 550 calories or less):
If you like this recipe we have a whole category dedicated to lighter meals < click here. Below are some of my favourites:
- Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Chicken with Vegetables
- Healthier Slow Cooked Spicy Chicken Rogan Josh
- One-Pot Turkey Meatballs With Courgetti
- Healthier Red Thai Chicken Curry – without the shop-bought sauce!
- Healthier Slow Cooked Spicy Beef Curry
- Creamy Eggs and Kale Breakfast
- One Pot Garlic Chicken Pasta
The Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta Video:
The Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta Recipe:
Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta
- 10 sprays fry-light - or other 1-cal per spray oil
- 17.5 oz (500g) boneless chicken thighs - (any skin and visible fat removed), cut into chunks
- large pinch salt and pepper
- 1 large brown onion - peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 1 red pepper - chopped (seeds discarded)
- 2 portobello mushrooms - sliced
- 1 chicken stock cube - or 1 tsp bouillon for gluten free
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 28 oz (800g) tinned chopped tomatoes
- 10.5 oz (300g) dry spaghetti - (gluten free if required)
- Handful of small basil leaves to serve
- ¼ tsp chill flakes
- Heat a large frying pan and spray with the fry-light.
- Add in the chicken and cook for 8-10 minutes until the outside of the chicken starts to brown (if you don't move it around to much it will brown a lot quicker).
- Add in the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.
- Add in the garlic and red pepper and cook for 2 more minutes, then add in the mushrooms.
- Crumble on the stock cube (or bouillon), add the tomato puree and oregano and stir to combine.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Whilst the sauce is simmering, fill a large pan with boiling water from the kettle and add the spaghetti. Cook for 10-12 minutes until al dente.
- Drain the spaghetti then divide between 4 bowls. Top with the chicken and sauce and sprinkle on the basil leaves and chilli flakes before serving.
Can I make it gluten free?Yes, use gluten free pasta and gluten free stock cubes.
Can I make it ahead?I don't recommend cooking the spaghetti ahead, but the sauce can be made ahead, then quickly cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat in a pan, stirring occasionally until piping hot throughout (about 7-8 minutes). You can also reheat in the microwave if you prefer. Reheated at the highest setting and give it a stir every minute. It will take 5-8 minutes, it's done when it's piping hot throughout.
Can I freeze it?You can freeze the sauce (I don't recommend cooking and freezing the spaghetti). Make the sauce, then quickly cool, cover and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat as per the reheat instructions above.
Nutritional information is per serving - including the spaghetti.
This post was first published in August 2015. Updated in January 2020 with new photos, video and tips!
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Love this so simple recipe. Gonna try and make this tonight for dinner, hopefully the kids love it x
Really tasty, light recipe. Will become a regular for us.
Sue Painter says
Absolutely yummy! Made this last night!
Scrumptious sauce indeed! Thank you Nicky!
Useful Content. Thanks a lot for the info!
Loved this dish - thank you
This meal went down a treat! Great recipe, many thanks.
Anika Schulze says
Hi there! I about to cook your dish for friends tomorrow at dinner. Just wondering how you cut the mushrooms? The instructions don't specify this. Thanks, Anika
Nicky Corbishley says
Good spot Anika, thanks for letting me know. The mushrooms are just sliced - I like to slice them quite thickly. I've updated the recipe now.
Sounds yummy, will definitely make this pasta. And I am a chocolate devourer too, love Cadbury milk.
Nicky Corbishley says
Hope you enjoy it Pat. Can't beat a lovely (giant sized) Dairy Milk 😀