Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta

published Nov 29, 2021
Tuscan Chicken Pasta Recipe

Bursting with flavor, this oh-so-creamy pasta dish is an easy weeknight meal.

Serves6

Prep15 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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Tuscan chicken pasta  made with penne pasta in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
Credit: Kelli Foster

You can never go wrong with the comforting combination of chicken and pasta, but when it’s blanketed with a creamy, tomato-kissed sauce studded with sun-dried tomatoes, smoky bacon, wisps of baby spinach, and a shower of Parm, you know you’re in for a real treat. It’s been weeks since I first made this Tuscan-inspired creamy chicken pasta, and my family is still talking about it. It’s easy enough to pull together for a weeknight dinner, with enough pizzazz to impress family or friends.

Tuscan Chicken Pasta Ingredients

The name gives away two of the main ingredients (chicken and pasta!), and the others that give this Tuscan-inspired dish its flavor, include the following:

  • Bacon 
  • Garlic
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Sun-dried tomatoes 
  • Baby spinach 
  • Cream 
  • Parmesan cheese 

What Kind of Chicken Should I Use for Tuscan Chicken Pasta?

Boneless, skinless chicken breast is the best choice for this easy pasta dish. This mild-mannered cut is lean, quick-cooking, and won’t overpower the garlic, fresh rosemary, and sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe calls for one pound of chicken breast, which is about two medium-sized pieces of chicken. 

What Kind of Pasta Should I Use for Tuscan Chicken Pasta?

A short, tubular pasta, like penne, is perfect for Tuscan chicken pasta. 

Credit: Kelli Foster

Can I Make It Ahead of Time?

Yes! You can make the whole meal in advance and store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days. When you’re ready to eat, heat on the stovetop over low heat. 

You can also get a head-start by cooking the chicken breasts and/or bacon a day in advance. Once fully cooled, store it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook the full recipe. Those flavor-packed browned bits that accumulate on the bottom of the pan won’t get incorporated into the sauce, but it will still be delicious. 

Tuscan Chicken Pasta Recipe

Bursting with flavor, this oh-so-creamy pasta dish is an easy weeknight meal.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 (7- to 8-ounce) jar

    oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 tablespoon

    fresh rosemary leaves

  • 2 ounces

    Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup), plus more for serving

  • 2

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)

  • 1 pound

    dried penne pasta

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 slices

    bacon (not thick-cut, about 5 ounces)

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans

    diced tomatoes

  • 5 ounces

    baby spinach (about 5 cups)

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Drain 1 (7- to 8-ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes and thinly slice. Mince 3 garlic cloves and finely chop 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves. Finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup).

  2. Place 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast inside a gallon zip-top bag. Use the flat side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin and pound until 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with the second chicken breast.

  3. Bring a Dutch oven or large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried penne pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.

  4. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season chicken all over with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch or larger high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and sear until deeply browned, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

  5. Cook 4 slices bacon in the same skillet over over medium heat until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crisp, 6 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Place on a paper towel-lined plate. When cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon.

  6. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat. Add the garlic, rosemary, and sundried tomatoes, and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and their juices and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add 5 ounces baby spinach, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

  7. Add 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, the Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

  8. Add the pasta, chicken, and bacon to the skillet, and toss to combine with the sauce. Add more pasta water a splash at a time to loosen sauce if needed. Serve warm and top with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.