Chicken Bacon Pasta with Spinach and Tomato in Garlic Cream Sauce
Recipe courtesy of www.juliasalbum.com.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb. chicken (breast or tenders)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning (thyme, oregano, basil—combined)
- 5 medium tomatoes, chopped into large cubes
- 1 cup cooked spinach
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
- 6 bacon strips, cooked, drained, and chopped
- 1 and ⅓ cups half and half
- 1 and ⅓ cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 10 oz. penne pasta
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
- In a large skillet on high heat, heat two tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add chicken and cook on one side on high heat for one 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 one 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, add chopped tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, ⅓ 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 one minute, two at most. Immediately remove from heat. Season with more crushed red pepper and salt, if needed.
- In the meantime, 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 ⅔ of chicken into thin strips. To serve, top the pasta with chicken strips and grated Parmesan cheese.
Honestly, I had some problems with this recipe. In my opinion, it called for much too much crushed red pepper! I really had trouble eating it; it was too spicy for me. I also did not use five tomatoes, I preferred to eyeball my skillet. I used a bag of fresh spinach and just threw that in the skillet as opposed to buying precooked and frozen spinach because thawing frozen spinach, as you may know, is a task that I dread in the kitchen. I’m a fan of creamy, fattening sauce and was missing that with this recipe. For next time, I would probably aim for a thicker, alfredo-like sauce. I hope you have better luck than I did!