Spaghetti with Chicken, Lemon, and Feta (or one of the first dishes I ever made)


My mom and I moved the summer of 5th grade. Before that, I lived with my grandparents and uncle (kind of like Full House except we were ALL Greek, not just my uncle with the cool hair). This meant that someone was always around to make me dinner. Plus, we lived down the street from the family restaurant, so that was always an option.

When we moved, my mom started working later on Thursdays, so I was on my own for dinner. I’d walk home from school, eat a Little Debbie Swiss cake roll and drink a Pepsi, watch some TV with the pup, and then, depending on what we had around, I’d whip something up or walk to the grocery store, which was 1 block away. There, I’d pick up something easy to make—which ranged from the ingredients to make a baked pasta dish (using the recipe on the Prince pasta box) to scalloped potatoes (yes, I would eat boxed scalloped potatoes as a dinner).  One of my “staples,” though, was spaghetti with chicken and feta. I’d also make this for my mom occasionally.

My mom always used to buy the fancy chicken tenderloins.  Of course, the chicken was thawed on the counter or in the sink while I was in school—it was okay to do those things back then (FYI, I can say things like “back then” now, because I’m 30). This dish has evolved over the years, obviously. I now use whole wheat pasta, less oil, fresh garlic (we always had the jarred kind because it would last longer), lemon zest, and chopped parsley when I’m feeling fancy.

It’s simple to make, delicious, and  healthy (much thanks to reducing the oil and not eating a Swiss cake roll as an appetizer).  I’ve been making this for 20 years, and I’d venture to say it’s got at least another 20 year lifespan. 🙂

Spaghetti with Chicken, Lemon, and Feta

Serves 2

4 to 5 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
dried oregano
1 medium chicken breast, about 6 oz., cut into bite sized pieces
6 tsp. (2 Tbsp.) extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt and the spaghetti.  Cook until al dente, reserving about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt, pepper, and oregano.  Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and add 2 tsp. oil.  Add the chicken to the hot oil and cook until nearly done.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant and chicken is cooked through.

Add the pasta, lemon zest (I like it lemony so I use nearly all the zest; use your judgment) and juice, chicken, remaining 4 tsp. olive oil and starchy water as needed (you probably do not need it all). Season to taste with salt and pepper.   Sprinkle with parsley if using.

Spaghetti with Chicken, Lemon, and Feta (or one of the first dishes I ever made)

11 thoughts on “Spaghetti with Chicken, Lemon, and Feta (or one of the first dishes I ever made)

  1. Good stuff! Love your story and thawed chicken in the kitchen sink… my mom would do the same back then… except she would make hamburger helper and just add the powder to the noodles and whatever meat was on hand. How did we every survive the early 90s?

  2. Easy you say but this is a dish that many could make and get lots of yummo satisfaction on a weekday. No wonder you’re still making it!

  3. I love that you were cooking for yourself at such a young age! (Even if that was, occasionally, scalloped potatoes from a box.) You’re obviously a natural cause this looks delicious! I love that lemon/feta combo. Wins me over every time.

  4. THis looks simple and so tasty! I’m impressed with your cooking at that age… I think all I could make was mac & cheese or ramen noodles 🙂 I did have a reputation for not knowing how to cook all though my growing up years, though, when really I just didn’t want to fight with my bossy mom and sister for space in the kitchen!

  5. I love the background story. Let’s see, if I were to have continued making something I first learned to cook, it would be something like mac n cheese with hot dogs 😉 Not sure I want that showing up on my blog in any way, shape or form 😉

  6. What a nice twist on an otherwise standard dish (spaghetti). I tend to consider spaghetti as part of Italian food, whereas feta doesn’t come to mind, so I would not have thought of this on my own. This looks like a great (and yummy) idea. Thanks.

  7. When I lived with my dad, I lived on Stove Top and Hamburger Helper. Finally, I learned to make some pasta dishes and chili. A person can only go so long on those boxed dinners!

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