Succulent, diced chicken breast pieces simmer away in a savory sauce with just a hint of spiciness from chopped jalapeño peppers, before joining forces with spaghetti and cotija cheese for a simple, satisfying dinner that comes together in no time.
One of the best parts about this Mexican-inspired, spicy spaghetti is that many of the ingredients are common household staples! You'll need:
- Pasta. I use spaghetti here, but see my suggestions below for variations.
- Olive oil
- Chicken breasts. For this version, I use chicken breasts, but many other proteins would work well here! See below.
- Fresh oregano. The fresh version of this herb has an aromatic, potent flavor. One teaspoon of dried oregano may be used as a substitute for one tablespoon of fresh oregano.
- Jalapeño peppers. These are the keys to the spicy kick! If you prefer a milder sauce, you can use a can of diced green chiles in place of fresh jalapeño peppers or simply remove the seeds and ribs from your jalapeño pepper. (That's where the heat lives. Use caution and make sure to wash your hands after cutting pepper or use gloves if your skin is sensitive.)
- White wine. Chicken broth may be substituted if preferred.
- Crushed plum tomatoes
- Sea salt
- Cotija cheese. This salty, crumbly Mexican cow's milk cheese is perfect for adding over pasta, tacos, and other Mexican dishes. If you can't find cotija cheese, you can use feta cheese, farmer's cheese, or even grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Can I use another type of pasta?
Sure! Any pasta shape would work well here, so feel free to use your favorite. We almost always have spaghetti in our pantry, but penne, fusilli, and even good ol' elbow macaroni is just fine, too.
Alternatively, you can cater to food allergies and special diets by swapping out traditional semolina pasta with other nutritious and allergy-friendly options such as:
- Brown Rice Pasta
- Quinoa-based Pasta
- Lentil or Chickpea Pasta
- Zucchini Noodles
- Egg Noodles
- Hearts of Palm Noodles
Many of these pasta types are gluten free, low carb, high protein and generally allergen-friendly; don't be afraid to experiment with your favorite types of pasta and noodles!
What other proteins can I use?
While chicken breasts are probably one of the most commonly purchased meats for many households, chicken thighs would also work in this spicy spaghetti recipe!
"Spice" things up in other ways by trying out this recipe with the following proteins as a chicken substitute:
- Ground beef or ground turkey
- Chicken sausage
- Pork Sausage
- Tofu or vegan chicken
- Sliced mushrooms
- Rotisserie chicken
For all but the rotisserie chicken: After lightly sautéing the onion, garlic, oregano and jalapeño peppers, add about 1 pound of desired protein or mushrooms and brown until almost cooked through, then add remaining sauce ingredients and simmer until fully cooked and/or tender.
For rotisserie chicken, dice the cooked chicken and toss it in to simmer and heat through with the sauce.
More Easy Pasta Dishes
Round out the rest of your weekday meals with these other easy pasta dishes that are perfect for busy days:
- Avocado Pasta
- Sausage & Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette Pasta
- Creamy Mushroom & Chicken Sausage Florentine Pasta
Spaghetti with Chicken and Spicy Tomato Sauce
- 1 16 ounce box spaghetti or your favorite pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper finely diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano) finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts diced into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup white wine dry (optional)
- 1 28 ounce can of crushed plum tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt divided
- ½ cup Cotija cheese grated, plus extra for garnish
- Bring a large pot of of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño pepper and oregano, and cook until the vegetables are softened and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the diced chicken breast (or desired protein) to the skillet with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken is golden brown and almost cooked through.
- Add white wine or broth; simmer until reduced to half, about 2-3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Season with remaining ½ teaspoon of sea salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken pieces are completely cooked through and tender.
- Add drained pasta and cotija cheese. Toss to fully combine.
- Sprinkle with additional cheese and chopped oregano before serving, if desired.