I’m constantly looking for new ways to perk up boring chicken breasts. This intensely-flavored dish was a result of cleaning out my refrigerator. And boy, was it a big success! The addition of the spinach and roasted red peppers to the creamy alfredo-style sauce was the perfect topper for this Tuscan chicken and pasta. Best of all, once you prep your ingredients, you can have this meal on the table in about 30 minutes. It’s really that easy, and it’s a good recipe for newer cooks to practice on sauce-making. Dive in!
Tuscan Chicken & Pasta Recipe
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
4 large cloves garlic, pressed
6 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup roasted red peppers (jarred ones are fine), patted dry, and cut into strips
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed between palms
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon (about) kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon (about) ground black pepper, or to taste
3/4 cup (about) all-purpose flour, divided use
4 Tablespoons butter, divided use
1/2 cup sweet white wine
2 cups strong chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound angel hair pasta, thin spaghetti, or linguine, cooked al dente
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Mince the onion, press the garlic, remove the stem ends from the spinach, and cut roasted red peppers into strips. Set aside for later. You’ll need these ready to go, because this recipe moves along quickly.
Season the chicken on both sides with the oregano, basil, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Remove 1/4 cup of the flour and set aside. Place the rest in a shallow dish. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides, shaking off any excess.
Heat a large, deep, heavy skillet over medium heat. (See Notes below.) When hot, add 3 tablespoons of the butter, and swirl to coat the pan. Sear the chicken until golden on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove and keep warm.
Reduce heat to low and add remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan, along with the minced onions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the pressed garlic and continue to stir for 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir for 30 seconds to cook out the rawness. Raise the heat to medium. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced by half. You should have a bubbly paste. Carefully pour in the chicken broth and whisk until thickened. Stir in the heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Return the chicken, along with any accumulated juices, to the sauce. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer about 5 minutes to cook the chicken through. It should test 165 F. in the center when tested with an instant-read thermometer. (See Notes below.) Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm.
Add the roasted red peppers and baby spinach to the sauce. Stir only until the spinach wilts, then remove from heat.
Place the cooked pasta on a plate. Top with the chicken breasts and sauce. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
• I prefer my hard-anodized 12-inch skillet that is 3 inches deep. Non-stick skillets will not give you the nice brown crust, nor leave a good fond in the pan to flavor the sauce. Cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens will also work.
• Timing on the cooking of the chicken will vary depending upon how thick they are. Use an instant-read thermometer to be sure the chicken is cooked through, but be careful of over-cooking. Chicken breast meat will become dry and tough if overcooked.
• This may seem like a lot of spinach, but it wilts down to a fraction of its former volume. Use it all.