I’m always in the market for a good pasta dish.
Sun-dried tomatoes were a popular ingredient a few years ago. You saw them in salads, casseroles, on pizzas and in pastas, but I hadn’t seen them around for a few years until I ran across this recipe recently.
Sun-dried tomatoes are exactly what they say, sun-dried slices of summer. You can find them dried or packed in oil. They have a concentrated flavor and a chewy texture. They are delicious!
This recipe calls for shredded mozzarella, but if you use fresh, cut it into small chunks about the size of dice. You’ll love the fresh flavor it imparts to the dish.
This meal packs protein, carbs and delicious flavor into one meal. Serve with a salad and breadsticks for a wonderful Friday night dinner that will wind down the week in style.
Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small jar (3 to 4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or use 3 to 4 oz fat-free sun-dried tomatoes
1 lb chicken breast tenders
salt, to taste
1 tsp paprika
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz penne pasta
1 Tbs basil, if using dry basil (if using fresh basil, you can add more)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cooked pasta water, reserved
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 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil. Add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color); cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water (to stop the cooking process).
Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller bits and add them back to the skillet with the chicken. Add half-and-half and cheese to the skillet, too. Bring to a gentle boil. Immediately, reduce to a simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. (If the sauce is too thick, don’t worry. You’ll be adding some cooked pasta water soon.) Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce; stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of basil and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water because the creamy 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 the 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 the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 339, Calories from Fat: 88, Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 83 mg, Sodium: 685 mg, Potassium: 796 mg, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 29 g
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