This creamy, hearty Tuscan chicken pasta recipe is ready in just minutes, so it’s easy to enjoy any night of the week. After a long day, reward yourself with a simple Italian feast that comes together in only half an hour.
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What’s more comforting than rich, creamy, cheesy Italian pasta? Toss in some crispy chicken bits, baby spinach, and Italian seasonings, and you’ve got a healthy pasta meal that’s rich in protein, and packed with flavor and vitamins. One bite of this simple, garlicky goodness, and your family will insist that Tuscan Chicken Pasta become a regular part of your weeknight dinner rotation. So if you’re looking for healthy pasta recipes that are sure to please, look no further.
Why You Will Love This Pasta Recipe
- It’s simple: This one-pot pasta meal with a creamy white sauce is an easy recipe that’s ready in minutes. Unlike more complicated pasta dishes like spaghetti Bolognese or pasta carbonara, you don’t need to labor for hours making the perfect tomato sauce. It’s a hassle-free way to have dinner ready in a hurry.
- It’s a crowd-pleaser: From discerning diners to picky toddlers, who doesn’t love cheesy, creamy pasta? This is one of those chicken and pasta recipes that will have the whole family’s approval.
- Special diet-friendly: Substitutions are simple with this healthy creamy pasta recipe, so those with special diets can still enjoy rich Italian pasta.
Ingredients for Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Pasta: Any sort of dried or fresh pasta will work for this dish. Rigatoni, Farfalle, Ziti or Penne pasta are all great options. You can also use gluten-free pasta, vegan pasta, whole wheat pasta, or zucchini noodles if you like.
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken tenders work best, but you can also use chicken thighs or leftover grilled chicken. Alternatively, omit the meat and use roasted veggies, cooked Italian sausage, or use shrimp to make seafood pasta.
- Oil: Olive oil is ideal for making easy pasta recipes, but you can also use the oil from the sundried tomato jar.
- Garlic cloves: From lasagna to baked ziti, fresh is best when it comes to pasta dishes! Minced garlic cloves will produce far more flavor than garlic powder.
- Italian seasoning: If you don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, use fresh herbs or sprinkle in a little dried rosemary, basil, oregano, and thyme. Add red pepper flakes to give this dish some pep.
- Sundried tomatoes: look for those packed in oil. The jars are usually alongside the pasta, or sometimes near the pickles and olives.
- Milk: Heavy cream will make the richest, creamiest sauce, but whole milk works well for cream sauce too, and it contains far less fat. You can even use 2% milk. If you’re dairy free, try unsweetened almond milk and dairy-free cheese.
- Flour: all-purpose flour works perfectly, but you can also use your favorite gluten-free flour or cornstarch.
- Spinach: Fresh spinach will provide the best flavor and texture, but if you only have frozen, that will work. Thaw and drain it, then press it with paper towels to remove as much of the moisture as possible.
How to Make Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Cook the Pasta: Fill a large pot with water and add a tablespoon of salt. Bring it to a boil and cook your pasta according to the package directions. Don’t overdo it. You want your pasta al dente so that it doesn’t get soggy in the sauce.
- Cook the Chicken: Place a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle it with olive oil, and heat. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle it evenly with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken into the oil and stir in the garlic. Allow the chicken to cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring so that it gets a nice golden sear.
- Add Tomatoes: Toss in the sundried tomatoes and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly done.
- Start the Sauce: Whisk together the flour and milk until there are no lumps.
- Pour and Thicken: Stir the milk into the chicken. Bring the pan up to a simmer, and allow the sauce to bubble for 3-4 minutes or until it has thickened.
- Add the Final Ingredients: When the white sauce has thickened, toss in the spinach and stir until it begins to wilt. Add in the cooked pasta and sprinkle in the cheese, then stir to fully combine.
Notes and Substitutions
- Pasta: you can use any pasta for this easy recipe, even whole wheat pasta or gluten-free options, as long as you cook it according to the package directions, you should be fine.
- Chicken: if you’d rather, try using sliced Italian sausage or chicken sausage links, or shrimp for your creamy Tuscan pasta.
- Spinach: Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, and kale will work as replacements for the spinach
- Garlic: If you must, you can use a teaspoon of garlic powder in place of the fresh garlic.
- Store: Pasta will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days if kept in an airtight container.
- Reheat: Reheat pasta on the stovetop or in the microwave. Sometimes cooked pasta that has been stored in the fridge can dry out, so you may need to add some additional milk to return the creamy pasta sauce to its original consistency.
How to Serve Tuscan Chicken Pasta
This easy pasta recipe is a complete meal all by itself. You can serve it in a shallow bowl with a little extra parmesan, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil on top. If you prefer, serve it as a main dish paired with a piece of crusty bread and a side salad or a vegetable dish like roasted cauliflower.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to salt the pasta water?
In a word, yes. If you don’t salt your pasta water, your pasta dish will never be adequately seasoned. For a 10 oz. package of pasta, add 1-1 ½ tablespoons of salt to the water. Bring the pasta water to a boil first, add the salt, then allow it to return to a boil before adding in the noodles.
How do I know when the pasta is al dente?
The best way to ensure that your pasta is cooked al dente is to carefully follow the package directions, as different pasta requires different cook times. You can take a bite to test it. When it’s soft, but still has a little bit of chew, it’s just right. Because you will add the noodles to the hot pasta sauce, it will continue to cook a little. If it’s already overdone, you will end up with soggy pasta that falls apart in your sauce.
Do I have to cut the chicken before cooking it?
If you’d rather, you can cook your chicken pieces whole, remove them from the heat and then slice them. However, cutting the chicken before cooking will shorten the cook time and ensure that each piece is perfectly done.
Easy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- 10 oz pasta any short pasta will do
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 8 oz jar of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
- 3 cups of milk
- 2 tbsp flour
- 3 cups baby spinach
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Fill a large pot with water and add a generous dash of salt. Bring it to a boil and cook your pasta according to the package directions. Be careful not to overdo it. You want your pasta al dente so that it can still soak in some of the sauce.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle it with olive oil, and heat until the oil is hot, but not smoking. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle it evenly with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken into the oil and stir in the garlic. Allow the chicken to cook for 2-3 minutes without stirring so that it gets a nice golden sear.
- Toss in the sundried tomatoes and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly done.
- Whisk together the flour and milk until there are no lumps.
- Stir the milk into the cooked chicken. Bring the pan up to a simmer, and allow the sauce to bubble for 3-4 minutes or until it has thickened.
- When the sauce has thickened, toss in the spinach and stir until it begins to wilt. Stir in the cooked pasta and the parmesan cheese. Enjoy!