Barbecue chicken is all about the sauce. Otherwise, it would just be a plain piece of meat. So you better have a good one to slather on. Our approach is to keep it simple, but with a little bit of intrigue. That’s why we’re adding chipotle to the mix for smokiness and a hint of spice. And with a pesto-dressed veggie pasta salad on the side, there will be no shortage of flavorful items on your plate.
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Heirloom Grape Tomatoes
Wash and dry all produce. Preheat grill or broiler to high. If grilling, place skewers in a shallow dish and cover with water to soak. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Halve, peel, and cut onion into ½-inch wedges. If broiling, cut zucchini into ½-inch cubes. If grilling, cut zucchini into ¾-inch cubes.
If broiling, toss onion on one side of a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil. Toss zucchini on other side with a drizzle of olive oil. Season both with salt and pepper. If grilling, remove skewers from water. Thread onion and zucchini onto separate skewers, placing only one type of veggie on each. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Broil or grill veggies until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together barbecue sauce and a pinch of chipotle powder in a small bowl. Add more chipotle powder to taste—it’s spicy.
Once water in pot is boiling, add 4½ oz penne (about ¾ of the package— use the rest as you like). Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold water.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. If broiling, place on a foil-lined baking sheet and brush with half the sauce. Broil until nearly cooked through, 10-12 minutes, then brush chicken with remaining sauce. Continue broiling until no longer pink in center, about 5 minutes more. If grilling, brush chicken with half the sauce, then grill over direct heat, 5-7 minutes per side. Brush with remaining sauce halfway through.
While chicken cooks, halve tomatoes. Cut mozzarella into ½-inch cubes. Toss tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto, zucchini, onion, and penne in a large bowl. (TIP: Remove veggies from skewers first, if using.) Divide penne mixture and chicken between plates and serve.