Delicious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce: short, penne pasta smothered in a flavorful, creamy sauce spiced up with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and crushed red pepper flakes! When you taste this dish, it will make you feel like you just had a taste of Italy!
First, drain and reserve all olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes jar. Then, add 2 tablespoons of that reserved oil to the hot skillet and saute first sun-dried tomatoes, then add chicken (generously salted on both sides and sprinkled with paprika):
Add half-and-half and Mozzarella cheese, heat it up to a gentle boil, then immediately reduce to simmer. Cook constantly stirring until cheese melts, adding basil and crushed red pepper flakes along the way:
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In the mean time, cook both pasta and broccoli florets in a single pan (or steam broccoli separately, if you prefer), chop the broccoli into smaller pieces, and add both pasta and broccoli to the creamy sauce. Stir everything in. Remove pasta from heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes before serving.
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 lb chicken breasts, sliced
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)
1/2 pound broccoli florets
1 tablespoon basil (if using dry basil), if using fresh basil you can add more
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (at least, use more to taste)
1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water (or more)
salt, to taste
In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar. Add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) and saute for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add sliced chicken breasts (generously salted on both sides 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. When pasta is about half done, add the broccoli florets. Continue cooking both pasta and broccoli for about 5 more minutes, until pasta is al dente. 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 and broccoli to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of basil, at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and 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, more basil, 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.