A perfect blend of bacon, spinach, chicken, and pasta in a savory garlic cream sauce.
“This tastes like it’s from a restaurant!” – Those words are music to my ears when serving dinner to the hubs 😉 And I have to say, I agree. I’ve been on the search for savory pasta dishes that aren’t primarily made up of “cream of something” soup. Don’t get me wrong, I personally like my creamy soups but I wanted something different this time around and this fit the bill perfectly! The blend of flavors is to diiiiiiiie!
*Tip: Prepare the necessary ingredients ahead of time for easy cooking:
-Steam the spinach, cook/slice the chicken & bacon, grate the Parmesan cheese, mince the garlic, dice the tomatoes
I definitely recommend this for your next Sunday family meal. Of course, it’s great any night of the week- but preparing the ingredients can take a little extra time that might call for a Sunday 😉 All of those ingredients are well worth it though, the bacon… the spinach.. the chicken! Not to mention the flavors of the fresh garlic & red pepper flakes, (…although, ease up on the pepper flakes if you’re not a spicy-food lover. But I personally love a little KICK!)
Feel free to experiment with the flavors on this one, perhaps substituting that spinach for kale, or the chicken for ground turkey or sausage! 😉
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (a combo of thyme, oregano, & basil)
- 1 teaspoon Salt/Pepper
- 4-5 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup cooked spinach (equal to 6 cups or 10 oz. of raw spinach)
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 6 bacon strips, cooked/drained/chopped
- 1 + ⅓ cups half and half
- 1 + ⅓ cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 10 oz. penne pasta
- ½ cup additional Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat until warm.
- While the oil warms, prepare the chicken. If the chicken is very plump, slice it to about an inch thick. Season each side with paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook the chicken in the skillet on each side for about a minute, then reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook, covered, for several minutes until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add the tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, and half of the bacon. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice into thin strips and add to the skillet. Mix everything together until warm and combined.
- Cook penne according to package instructions.
- While pasta boils, add the half and half to the skillet and bring to a gentle boil.
- Add the 1 +1/3 cup Parmesan cheese to the boiling mixture and stir until cheese is melted and creates a creamy sauce (1-2 minutes). Remove the skillet from the heat and season with any additional crushed red pepper and/or salt if necessary. (Beware, the red pepper is spicy.)
- Drain the cooked pasta and mix into the creamy sauce. Top with remaining bacon crumbles, top with additional Parmesan cheese and serve!
Recipe Source: JuliasAlbum.com