Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Creamy Mozzarella Sauce

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Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Italian-inspired dinner with the best homemade creamy pasta sauce!  The sun-dried tomato pasta sauce is made from scratch using basil, red pepper flakes, garlic, paprika, cream, and shredded Mozzarella cheese.

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast tenderloins , sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup half and half (or use 1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup milk)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded (do not use fresh Mozzarella, use pre-shredded
  • Mozzarella)
  • 8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free, use gluten free brown rice pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water or more
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste

Instructions

1 ) In a large skillet, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar) for 1 minute on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.

2 ) Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the skillet, leaving the olive oil.

3 ) Add sliced chicken (salted and lightly covered in paprika for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.

4 ) Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain the pasta.

5 ) Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller pieces and add them back to the skillet with chicken.

6 ) To make creamy pasta sauce, add half-and-half (see substitution for half-and-half in the Recipe Notes section below) and Mozzarella cheese to the skillet, and bring to a gentle boil.

7 ) Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms.

8 ) Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce, and stir to combine.

9 ) Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

10 ) If the creamy sauce is too thick: Add about 1/2 cup of reserved cooked pasta water to the skillet to thin it out. Do not add all of pasta water at once – you might need less or more of it.

11 ) Season the chicken 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.

Recipe Tips:
What is half-and-half? Substitute 1/2 cup of milk + 1/2 cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of half-and-half.

If using sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained olive oil.

Do not use fresh Mozzarella. Fresh Mozzarella is usually sold as a large ball or small balls in a brine or water solution. Do not shred fresh Mozzarella. Use pre-shredded Mozzarella cheese sold in bags.

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