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.
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- 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
- 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
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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.
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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.
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.