I’ve been on a roll when it comes to trying new recipes. My whole meal plan for the last couple weeks consisted of new recipes to try. With Pinterest and a couple good food blogs at your fingertips, why eat the same things over and over again?
Originally when I found this recipe on Pinterest and clicked through, it did not produce the actual recipe. That’s always frustrating. But I kept looking and finally found it on a blog called Julia’s Album, so I was able to give it a try. And can I just say, it is equally as tasty as anything you could order at Olive Garden. My daughter said, even better.
I did most of the meal prep ahead of time. Even though my daughter was stopping in for an “eat and run” meal, it’s always more fun to try a new recipe with another person. So, I grated the Parmesan cheese ahead and set it aside.
And fried up the bacon.
And prepped all the chopped vegetables. I usually do things as I go when preparing a recipe, but this recipe comes together quickly at the end, and it is necessary to have everything ready to go.
Closer to the projected time to eat, I cooked up the chicken. The recipe says to cook the chicken in olive oil, but I cooked it in the leftover grease from the fried bacon. You don’t have to do this, but I felt like it would certainly add to the flavor of the meal. This chicken was so tasty, tender, and juicy, that if I was making “stand alone” chicken for a meal, I would definitely choose this method to prepare it.
After cooking and setting the chicken aside, add the spinach, tomatoes, and garlic, which cook up very quickly.
In rapid succession, the half and half is added and brought to a boil, followed by the Parmesan cheese, precooked pasta, and chicken.
Ready to serve, this recipe is not only very tasty, but pretty to look at too.
Perfect for a family meal or friends, it will certainly be a crowd pleaser.
I hope you get a chance to try this winter pasta meal. I know I will definitely be making it again, not only for myself, but it will become one of my “go to” recipes when company is coming.
Chicken and Bacon Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes in Garlic Cream Sauce
You'll love the flavors in this Italain/Mediterranean inspired recipe.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1b chicken breasts
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 5 tomatoes, chopped in large pieces
- 1 cup spinach
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
- 6 bacon strips, cooked, drained of fat, & chopped
- 1-1/3 cup half and half
- 1-1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 10 oz penne pasta
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded for serving
In a large skillet, on high heat, heat olive oil until hot. Add chicken and cook on one side on high heat for 1 minute. While it cooks, sprinkle the uncooked sides of the chicken with half of the paprika and Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over, and cook on the other side for 1 minute on high heat. Sprinkle with remaining paprika and Italian seasoning. 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 (but without chicken), add chopped tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, 1/3 of the chicken (sliced into small strips), and half of the already cooked bacon. Mix everything.
Add the half and half and bring to a boil. Only after the half and half starts boiling, add shreaded Parmesan cheese. Immediately reduce to simmer. While simmering, stir until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, only about 1 minute (at most 2 minutes). Then, immediately remove from heat. Season with more crushed red pepper and salt, if needed.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to the directions. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.
Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Add the remaining half of the cooked bacon. Add the remaining 2/3 of the chicken, cut into thin strips. To serve top the pasta with with the additional Parmesan cheese.