Craving some chicken pasta with an Italian twist? Make this Creamy Rigatoni Pasta with Chicken and Capers in a rich and velvety Mozzarella cheese sauce with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Garlic! The delicious pasta sauce recipe uses simple ingredients, such as garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, dried basil, red pepper flakes, cream (or half and half), and Mozzarella cheese.
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 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add thinly sliced chicken breast, sprinkle with salt and paprika, and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.
In the mean time, cook rigatoni pasta al dente. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Optionally, you can drain and rinse the rigatoni with cold water (to stop cooking).
While the rigatoni is cooking, make the pasta cream sauce. Add half and half to the skillet with the chicken. Add 1 tablespoon of basil, at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Bring to a gentle boil. Add Mozzarella cheese. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms.
Add capers. Stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick - don't worry - you'll be adding some cooked pasta water soon.
Add cooked rigatoni to the skillet with the cream sauce, and stir to combine.
Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water because the cream 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 this creamy chicken rigatoni 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.
WHAT IS HALF AND HALF? To make 1 cup of half and half, combine 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream or heavy whipping cream.