It is hard enough to put your deepest personal thoughts to paper, but it’s damn near impossible when there is chicken-pasta with spinach and bacon sizzling in the background. Sean found just how hard it was to write from the heart when his stomach was making googly eyes at the creamy tomato sauce. It is certain that our crew fell head over heels for today’s Crock-Pot Thursday meal.
Eat your heart out with the video and delicious date-night recipe below!
Chicken Penne with Bacon and Spinach in Creamy Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken (thick in size, such as chicken breasts)
- 6 bacon strips
- 5 medium tomatoes (chopped in cubes)
- 10 oz. package of fresh spinach
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded (more for garnish)
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 8 oz. penne pasta
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (more, if desired)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- BACON: Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Arrange bacon strips and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter that will absorb extra grease. Chop into 1 inch slices.
- CHICKEN: Rub chicken in seasoning mixture and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add chicken breasts and cook on each side on medium high heat for a total of 3-4 minutes until it's nicely browned. If chicken is still pink in the center, reduce heat to medium and cook covered for several minutes until no longer pink in the center. Add sliced garlic in the last minute of cooking chicken, cook for 1-2 minutes until browned and fragrant. Remove chicken from the pan, slice it in thick strips and return only half of it back to the skillet (we want to keep the other half intact for later). Also, make sure that all liquid, if any, is removed after cooking the chicken (it depends on the chicken you use), otherwise the dish will be too watery
- TOMATOES and SPINACH: Add chopped tomatoes to the remaining chicken and cook for 3 minutes on high until tomatoes release their juices. Add fresh spinach in 4 consecutive batches until it wilts.
- CHEESY SAUCE: Add half and half (see note if half and half is not availabe) and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce to simmer and slowly add grated Parmesan cheese - until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy. Remove from heat.
- PASTA: In the meantime bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse.
- ADDING BACON: Add pasta and bacon and stir until fully coated in sauce. Season with more salt if necessary.
- ADDING REMOVED 1/2 OF CHICKEN: Now it’s time to add the 1/2 of chicken that we removed earlier and slightly mix it in with the rest of the ingredients (I just pushed my chicken slightly into the skillet). Cover with a lid until ready to serve to keep warm. Serve with additional shredded Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if desired.
Recipe courtesy of: What's In The Plan?