It was during a spontaneous weekend getaway to Tuscany with my closest neighbor, Julia, when we stumbled upon a quaint bistro tucked away in the meandering lanes of Florence. The aroma wafting out was irresistible. Our Italian was broken at best, but we deciphered a mouth-watering chicken pasta dish on the menu. The experience was unforgettable, not just for the scenic beauty but for that incredible meal.
On returning, I was driven by nostalgia to recreate that magical dish. After numerous trials and tweaks, I’ve crafted a version that transports me back to that bistro with every bite. I’m elated to share this delightful recipe with you today.
How to Prepare Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Ingredients for Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 boneless chicken thighs, skin off
- A dash of kosher salt and ground black pepper, for seasoning
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 cup of chicken broth
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock, low-sodium
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of mixed Italian herbs
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup aged Asiago cheese, freshly grated
- 1 cup rich heavy cream
- A tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 pack (16 oz) mini farfalle pasta
Directions for Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Begin by warming the olive oil in a broad skillet over a medium flame.
- Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and sear them until they’re a golden hue and fully cooked. Once done, place them on a plate for later use.
- In the same skillet, sauté the onions and garlic until they become translucent.
- Pour the white wine, letting it simmer while gently scraping off the bits stuck to the pan’s bottom.
- Introduce the sun-dried tomatoes, followed by the chicken stock and Italian herbs. Allow the mixture to come to a gentle simmer.
- Add the spinach, watching as it wilts and merges with the sauce.
- Lower the flame and mix in the Asiago cheese and heavy cream. Finish with a splash of lemon juice and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Reintroduce the chicken thighs to the skillet, ensuring they’re well-coated and warm.
- As the sauce rests, boil the mini farfalle pasta until al dente. Drain and serve in bowls, topped generously with the chicken and creamy sauce.
Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs?
Absolutely! Chicken breasts can be a leaner option, just ensure they’re cooked through. Adjust the cooking time as breasts might cook faster than thighs.
Is there a substitute for chicken broth?
Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar mixed with water as a substitute. Some also prefer cooking sherry.
How can I make the sauce thicker?
If you desire a thicker sauce, reduce the heavy cream and use milk or half-and-half instead. You can also add a cornstarch slurry (a mix of cornstarch and water) to achieve the desired consistency.
Can I add mushrooms to this dish?
Definitely! Mushrooms, especially varieties like mini bella, can add a wonderful texture and earthiness to the dish. Simply slice and sauté them with the onions.
What if I don’t have Asiago cheese?
You can substitute Asiago with other aged cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano. They’ll still give the dish a delightful tanginess.
Is the spinach essential?
While spinach adds a fresh element, you can opt to add more or skip it. Some even use frozen spinach. Just ensure it’s thawed and excess water is squeezed out before adding.
Any tips to avoid splatter while frying the chicken?
Using a splatter guard can be helpful. Alternatively, you can cover the skillet with a lid, leaving a small gap for steam to escape.
How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for up to 3 days. To reheat, use a microwave or stovetop, adding a splash of water or broth to keep it moist.
Can I use gluten-free pasta?
Yes, you can replace the regular pasta with your preferred gluten-free variety. Ensure to adjust the cooking time according to the pasta’s package instructions.
Bon Appétit! Here’s hoping this Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta fills your home with delightful aromas and takes you on a mini-vacation to the heart of Italy, just like it does for me!
Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup freshly grated aged Asiago cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 16 ounce package mini farfalle pasta
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
- Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and place into hot skillet. Cook until golden, thighs are no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear, 8 to 10 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the center should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove chicken thighs from pan; set aside.
- Reduce heat to low; add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in white wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine is almost evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add in sundried tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer, and cook until mixture has slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add spinach to skillet and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low; stir in Asiago and heavy cream until well combined. Stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.
- Return chicken thighs to skillet; heat until warm, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat; allow pan to sit off heat while cooking the pasta. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in mini farfalle; return to a boil. Cook pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, 7 to 8 minutes; drain.
- Divide pasta between four bowls, and top each with chicken thighs and sauce to serve.