Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

3 large garlic cloves, minced                                                        1 cup mozzarella cheese,                                                                                                                       shredded

1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil                           8-oz penne pasta

1 lb. chicken tenders                                                                      1 tbsp. basil

Salt                                                                                                 ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper                                                                                                                   flakes

Paprika                                                                                           ½ cup reserved cooked                                                                                                                    pasta water

1 cup half and half                                                                          Salt (to taste)

 

Directions:

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 tbsp. 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 tbsp. of oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar) for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high 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 cooking).

Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller bits and add them back to the skillet with chicken. Add half and half and cheese to the skillet, too, to bring to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too think – don’t worry – you’ll be adding some cooked pasta water soon. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tbsp. of basil, and at least ¼ tsp. of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add about ½ cup reserved cooked pasta water because the creamy sauce will be too thick – don’t worry – you’ll be adding some cooked pasta water soon. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tsp. of basil, and at least ¼ tsp. of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

Add about ½ 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 of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

 

This recipe is absolutely delicious. I made it a couple of nights ago and even my boyfriend, who absolutely hates tomatoes, loved it. The sun-dried tomatoes don’t actually taste like a fresh tomato. Instead, it has a subtle taste that is kind of smokey. Paired with the chicken, it’s the perfect match.

Something that I’m going to try next time: Instead of cooking the chicken the way the recipe asks, I’m actually going to buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken. I love the way they are cooked and I think it would work perfectly with this. I’ll just add the already cooked chicken to the pan with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and oil and start from there.

 

 

Recipe and pictures found on Julia’s Album

 

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