If you’ve ever watched a rotisserie chicken turning slowly on a spit—my local supermarket has several going at once— then you’ve seen the tray underneath the birds to catch the drippings. Those drippings are gold!
Now, imagine those chickens roasting over a baking dish filled with pasta: All those juices from the bird would drip into the pasta and give it an unbelievably delicious roasty flavor.
This idea of roasting meat on top of other ingredients is actually an ancient technique from when individual families didn’t have their own ovens, and cooks brought pans of meat or poultry and whatever went with it to the local baker to roast in the baker’s big oven. This approach inspired this recipe.
I have roasted chicken over every imaginable vegetable, fruit, and starch, but I particularly love angel hair because the pasta is so absorbent and acts like a sponge for the cooking juices. Cook the thin strands in boiling water first, drain them, and arrange them in a baking dish. Add canned tomatoes for a little color and flavor, and then set chicken pieces on top.
While the chicken roasts, the juices from both the chicken and the tomatoes seep into the angel hair, forming a luscious savory nest that you can cut with the edge of a spoon or a knife. The pasta remains tender, but the strands at the edge of the dish become appealingly crispy.
I like to roast whole legs (thighs attached to drumsticks) and breasts that are large enough to make two servings. I prefer to use bone-in chicken because it’s juicier and more flavorful — perfect for basting the pasta while it cooks. You could also roast a whole chicken, but be sure to spatchcock it first so that it roasts quickly and finishes at the same time as the pasta.
To serve, cut the large pieces of chicken into smaller individual servings. Use a large spoon to scoop some pasta onto the plates, then top with chicken. A green salad on the side is all you need to make it a complete meal.
More One-Pan Chicken Recipes!
Roast Chicken on Angel Hair Pasta Recipe
At my grocery store, I can buy nests of fresh angel hair pasta, which I love for this dish. If you find something similar at your grocery store, give it a try! The cooking times will be the same.
Another name for angel hair pasta is capellini; either is fine in this recipe.
Look for chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached) at the meat counter at your grocery store. If you can’t find them, then buy two bone-in, skin-on thighs and two drumsticks, or buy a whole chicken and spatchcock it before roasting.
- 1 pound angel hair pasta
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, divided
- 2 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks attached), on the bone (1 1/2 pounds total)
- 2 large chicken breast halves, on the bone (1 1/2 pounds total)
- 1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves removed, for garnish
1 Cook the angel hair: Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil over high heat and cook the angel hair until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain the pasta.
2 Transfer the pasta to the baking dish: Use 1 tablespoon of olive oil to coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the baking dish. If you like, twirl the pasta into several small “nests” within the dish. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil evenly over top of the pasta and set the dish aside.
3 Heat the oven to 400°F.
4 Cook the tomatoes: Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the tomatoes and their juices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, red pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the oregano.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Spoon the tomato mixture evenly over the nests; they will not be covered completely.
5 Add the chicken: Rub the chicken skin with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Set the chicken on the nests, skin side up. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of oregano.
6 Roast the chicken: Transfer the dish to the oven and roast the chicken for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a breasts and thighs registers 165°F. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes.
7 Cut and serve the chicken: Cut the legs in half to make 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks (you can do this right in the dish). Cut the breasts in half horizontally. Break up the angel hair with a metal spoon or knife. Serve the chicken pieces with some of the pasta from underneath.