1. CHICKEN AND BACON PASTA WITH SPINACH AND TOMATOES IN GARLIC CREAM SAUCE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken breast
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (thyme, oregano, basil - combined)
5 medium tomatoes, chopped in large cubes
1 cup cooked spinach
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 (maximum 1/2 teaspoon) crushed red pepper flakes
6 bacon strips, COOKED, DRAINED OF FAT, AND CHOPPED
1 and 1/3 cups half and half
1 and 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
10 oz penne pasta (for gluten-free version, use gluten-free brown-rice penne, such as Tinkyada)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
In a large skillet, on high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add chicken and cook on one side on high heat for 1 minute.
While it cooks, sprinkle the uncooked sides of the chicken with paprika and Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over, and cook on the other side for 1 minute on high heat.
Reduce heat to medium, flip chicken over again and cook, covered, for several minutes until no longer pink in the center.
Remove chicken from the pan and keep chicken warm.
To the same pan (but without chicken), add chopped tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, 1/3 of the chicken (sliced into small strips) and half the bacon (already cooked and drained of fat). Mix everything.
Add half and half and bring to boil. Only after half and half starts boiling, add grated Parmesan cheese - immediately reduce to simmer and stir, while simmering, until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, only about 1 minute (at most 2 minutes). Then, immediately remove from heat. Season with more crushed red pepper and salt, if needed.
In the mean time bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water and drain again.
Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Add remaining half of bacon (cooked and drained of fat). Season with more salt if necessary. Slice the remaining 2/3 of chicken into thin strips. To serve, top the pasta with chicken strips and grated Parmesan cheese.
2. LEMON ASPARAGUS PASTA WITH GRILLED CHICKEN
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and cut into strips
1 pound of asparagus, ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
10 ounces of linguine pasta (spaghetti or fettuccine will also work)
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons of butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
⅓ cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
Optional garnishes: Lemon slices and ¼ cup chopped parsley
Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Add the asparagus to the pot during the last 3 minutes of cooking time.
Reserve ¼ cup of pasta cooking liquid.
In small pot, combine the heavy cream, butter and ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
Place the pasta and asparagus back into the pot you cooked it in along with the chicken.
Pour the cream sauce over the pasta mixture and toss to coat evenly, adding pasta water if needed to thin the sauce. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Alternatively, you can toss just the pasta with the sauce and arrange the chicken and asparagus over the top of the pasta.
Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices if desired.
3. CREAMY TUSCAN GARLIC CHICKEN
1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 cup spinach, chopped
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
In a large skillet add olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown on each side and cooked until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt. Add the chicken back to the pan and serve over pasta if desired.
*If you are serving over pasta and like it saucy, definitely double the sauce.
4. CHICKEN MOZZARELLA PASTA WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or use 3-4 oz fat-free sun dried tomatoes
1 lb chicken breast tenders
paprika (just a little bit)
1 cup half and half
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free, use Tinkyada gluten free brown rice pasta)
1 tablespoon basil (if using dry basil), if using fresh basil you can add more
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (at least, add more to taste)
1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water (or more)
salt, to taste
Note: if using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained oil for sautéing as described below:
In a large pan, on high heat, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar - see note above) for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water (to stop cooking).
Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller bits and add them back to the skillet with chicken. Add half and half and cheese to the skillet, too, and bring to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick - don't worry - you'll be adding some cooked pasta water soon. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water because the creamy sauce will be too thick (do not add all water at once - you might need less or more of it). This will water down the thickness of the cheese sauce and make it creamier. Immediately, season the pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.
Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.