This creamy pasta with chicken is a quick, easy dinner the whole family will enjoy. In this recipe, penne pasta is tossed with a creamy sauce loaded with grape tomatoes and greens. Then the pasta is topped with pan-fried chicken cutlets that are seasoned with an Italian inspired seasoning blend.
To make this pasta dish even better, it’s made with milk instead of cream it’s not too heavy. Plus, the tomatoes and greens make this an easy and delicious way to get some veggies in.
This is a great meal to make on busy weeknights, and since it makes a big skillet of creamy goodness, you might even have a little leftover for lunch, maybe.
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- Chicken – This recipe is made with thin skinless, boneless chicken breast. You can either cut the chicken in half, lengthwise to get four thinner pieces and pound them to about ¼ inch thick. Or, if you’re short on time (or energy) buy thin chicken cutlets and skip this step.
- Seasoning – The chicken is seasoned with an Italian inspired seasoning blend including salt, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary and black pepper. For the cream sauce we use just salt and pepper.
- Oil – We use olive oil to cook the chicken because we are not using a high temperature. Use your oil of choice.
- Dairy – Butter, whole milk and parmesan cheese are used for the creamy sauce.
- Produce – Tomatoes (use small tomatoes like cherry or grape), Greens (spinach, kale, chard or a combination) and garlic to flavor the sauce.
- Flour – All purpose flour thickens the sauce.
- Pasta – We use penne, but any tube or spiral pasta will work too.
Before we start cooking, start a large pot of water over medium to medium-high heat. Cover the pot and let the water heat up and come to a boil while you cook the chicken and start the sauce.
Having the pasta water ready to go will ensure the pasta and the sauce are done at about the same time. If you wait until the end to start the water, the sauce will sit too long and start to thicken.
The chicken should be at least 165°F at its thickest piece. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure.
The cooking time for the chicken is a guide; the actual time will depend on the thickness of your chicken pieces. If it’s not cooked through after the suggested time, give it another minute or two per side and check the temperature again.
The sauce will not thicken until it comes to a simmer/boil. Let it heat up gently, don’t crank the heat. It will happen; it just takes a few minutes.
Before draining the pasta, use a ladle to scoop out 1-2 cups of the cooking water. Reserve it just in case we need it to loosen the sauce.
Creamy Pasta with Chicken
Ingredients for the Chicken
- 4 Thin Chicken Cutlets thin, boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 1 pound
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Dried Thyme
- ¼ teaspoon Dried Rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Ingredients for the Pasta and Sauce
- 3 tablespoons Butter
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- Pinch Salt plus salt for the pasta water
- Pinch Black Pepper
- 3 tablespoons Flour all purpose
- 2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese plus extra for serving if desired
- 3 cups Whole Milk
- 5 ounces Spinach, Kale, or Chard, or a combination
- 1 pint Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
- 8 ounces Penne Pasta or use your favorite pasta
- Make a seasoning mix: add the 1 teaspoon of salt, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to a small bowl. Stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning mix on both sides.
Start the pasta water
- Start a large pot of water over medium to medium-high heat. Cover the pot and let the water heat up and come to a boil while you cook the chicken and start the sauce.
Cook the chicken
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chicken. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes. Turn and cook another 3-5 minutes or until it’s cooked through. The chicken should be at least 165°F on an instant read thermometer at its thickest piece.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Remove the cutlets from the skillet and place them on a pan or plate and keep warm. Do not wash the skillet.
Make the sauce
- Place the same skillet back over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is melted add the garlic, a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds while stirring.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
- Slowly add the milk to the flour mixture while stirring. When the milk is incorporated, add the parmesan cheese and stir until the sauce is smooth.
- Add the tomatoes and the greens to the sauce and stir until the greens start to wilt and fit comfortably in the skillet.
- When the sauce comes to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and cover.
- Cook the sauce for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep it at a gentle simmer. If it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit.
Cook the pasta
- Once the sauce is covered and cooking, make the pasta.
- Raise the heat on the pasta water. Make sure it’s boiling, then add the pasta. Cook the pasta to package directions for al dente. Remember to salt the water.
- Before draining the pasta, use a ladle to scoop out 1-2 cups of the cooking water. Reserve it just in case we need it to loosen the sauce.
- Drain well and immediately add the pasta to the sauce, lower the heat to low and cover the skillet.
- Heat for just a few minutes to let the pasta soak up some of the sauce. Stir occasionally. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. Start with 1-2 tablespoons at a time, stirring in between, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
- Taste the sauce and a couple of pieces of pasta and add salt, if needed. As a reference we added 1 teaspoon to ours.
- Finally, slice chicken and add it to the skillet or serve it on top of each individual serving.