Originally posted 3/30/18; updated 5/30/2020
Every once in a while I like to make something that feels a little fancier than normal. Of course, now that I have kids, my standards for fancy have changed quite a bit. Nonetheless, I still consider a meal that I might order out on a date-night with my hubby fancy. That’s why I love this Family Friendly Chicken Marsala.
Invite kids to help make Chicken Marsala!
From pounding the chicken, sautéing vegetables, and creating a homemade sauce, this meal does come with a lot of steps. For that reason and since there are a variety of ways your kids can help, this is a great meal to involve your little ones in preparing. Naturally, my five-year old thoroughly enjoyed pounding the chicken, and there was lots of pouring and mixing for my littlest one.
Swap Marsala Wine for Grape Juice
Now, the recipe calls for sweet Marsala wine, which is what gives the sauce its signature flavor. Of course, if you personally don’t want alcohol in your food or if you’re worried not enough of it will cook off appropriately for serving kids, you can use grape juice instead. The sauce is surprisingly good with grape juice. You can taste the grape flavor in the sauce, but it maintains about the same amount of sweetness as with the marsala wine. Actually the kids liked the taste. Plus, they loved knowing there was juice in their meal.
This meal went over best with my husband, and each of my kids liked certain parts of the ingredients, which in my mind makes it a win. We recognize there are more traditional ways of preparing chicken marsala. But to make the dish a tad healthier, we serve on top of spinach, add peas to the recipe, serve with raw veggies on the side, and steam instead of flour-dredge/pan-fry the chicken. Chicken marsala doesn’t traditionally call for peas, but my kids love them and I think they add a nice flavor. Two thumbs up for this fancy mid-week meal!
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How kids can help make this dish
This dish involves many kid-friendly tasks. Here are some ways for your lil’ sous chefs to help out:
- Pound the meat! We like to use this cool, reversible Meat Mallet.
- Transfer chicken to the pan. Using tongs can be fun and supports the development of fine motor skills.
- Measure and combine sauce ingredients. Kids like seeing how each ingredient changes the consistency of the sauce.
- Taste! Ask kids to taste the noodles to check and see if they’re done cooking.
Final Tips To ensure smooth sailing!
Mimi’s Cooking Tips:
🍅Instead of rinsing mushrooms, wipe or pat them with a damp paper towel. This prevents them from absorbing too much water.
🍅Add salt to boiling water to add flavor to the noodles.
OUR “kidify” Tips:
🍅Switch out the spinach. If your kids don’t like spinach, you can leave it out. As a veggie replacement, I like to have some cucumber slices and halved cherry tomatoes on my kids’ plates.
🍅Peas on the side. If your kids get freaked out by sauces, consider setting aside some of the frozen peas before you add the pea bag to the sauce in Step 3. You can put the peas in a small bowl with a bit of water and microwave them for a minute or so to cook. The kids can then eat them alongside their chicken and noodles. It’s a win for the kids cause they don’t have to eat the sauce, and a win for you cause you still get your kids to eat veggies.
- 2 lbs chicken breasts
- 1 T cooking oil
- salt & pepper
- 3 T butter (unsalted)
- 1/2 shallot (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 8 oz mushrooms (sliced, your choice)
- 1 - 2 T flour
- 3/4 cup sweet marsala wine (or grape juice)
- 3/4 cup chicken stock/broth
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- angel hair pasta
- 1 bunch spinach
- 1/4 cup milk or cream
- parmesan cheese
- Spread chicken on a cutting board or baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and pound with a Meat Mallet until chicken breasts are thin, even pieces. Sprinkle both sides of the breasts with salt & pepper.
- On medium heat, cook chicken in 1 T of cooking oil in a medium-large pan (my absolute fave!) for 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to low, cover (so pan is sealed shut), and let chicken cook for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the chicken cook covered (DO NOT OPEN LID) 10 more minutes. Uncover and make sure chicken is no longer pink. Place chicken on a plate and set aside.
- Meanwhile, melt 2 T of the butter in a separate medium-sized sauté pan. Add shallot and garlic, and cook for a few minutes. Then, add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Mix flour into vegetable mixture until evenly distributed and then pour in marsala wine (or grape juice) and chicken stock. Add frozen peas. Simmer for 10 minutes.
While chicken and veggie mixtures cook, heat water for pasta. Once boiling, add pasta (you choose how much) and cook according to package.
- Heat another pan on medium and melt the remaining 1 T butter. Add the bunch of spinach. Cook for 1 minute max, stirring the whole time. Add a bit of salt & pepper for flavor. Take spinach immediately out of pan and set aside.
- When you're close to serving the meal, add cream/milk to marsala sauce. Let sauce thicken for a couple minutes on low heat. The longer it cooks, the thicker it’ll get.
Place spinach on plate, chicken on top of spinach, pasta next to chicken, and pour marsala sauce on top of whole dish. Sprinkle dish with parmesan cheese. Feel free to serve with some sliced cucumbers and halved cherry tomatoes on the side.
We recommend that all meals for children be served with milk.