Yields 4 - 6 servings
2 plump chicken breasts, cut in half diagonally and each thin half cut into 2 strips (for a total of 8 pieces)
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs (store-bought or homemade)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter (cut into small cubes)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to coat chicken
10 ounces spaghetti or pasta of your choice (I used half regular and half whole wheat)
1 jar good-quality marinara sauce (or you favorite homemade version), warmed
1 cup shredded mozzarella and/or provolone cheese
Fresh herbs, to garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to broil or its highest temperature.
Start cooking the pasta in salted, boiled water. Cook just until al dente.
Meanwhile, season chicken liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle on the Italian herbs. Preheat a large skillet to medium heat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto both sides of the chicken ... pressing them down to adhere well. Sauté the chicken in skillet until both sides are lightly browned and chicken is just cooked through (about 3 minutes per side). You may have to do this step in two batches so that you do not crowd the pan.
Drain pasta once cooked. Remove chicken from pan once cooked (set aside on a large plate). Wipe out pan with a paper towel. Place about a fourth of the marinara into the same pan that the chicken was cooked in. Spread to evenly coat bottom of pan. Pour the cooked pasta into the pan. Nestle the chicken onto the pasta. Spoon the remaining sauce over the chicken. Top the chicken with "piles" of the Parmesan cheese and the mozzarella/provolone cheese(s). Dot the 2 tablespoons of butter (cut into small cubes) evenly on top of the cheese piles.
Broil about 4 - 6 minutes or until cheese is melted and everything is nice and bubbly.
Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired. Serve immediately.
NOTE: I often crush up store-bought croutons (usually the garlic and cheese flavor) to use as breadcrumbs. You get a ton of flavor, a crunchier texture and a little bit of a chunkier crumb.