A baked penne pasta with a Parmesan cream sauce that has been lightened up. Cherry tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and chicken are added to the dish.
This pasta is so creamy and stuffed with great ingredients.
Let’s start with the cream sauce.
Okay so it’s not like the healthiest cream sauce in the world. BUT without a sacrifice of taste, it’s pretty dang good. It’s lightened up with NO heavy cream at all!
But do you see how creamy this pasta is? It’s super creamy. And the sauce is still so very, very thick.
It starts with a little bit of olive oil, garlic, and butter.
Then some flour to make a roux. By starting off with cooking the flour it lets you thicken a sauce base without the flour clumping when the other ingredients get added. Which are chicken broth and milk. I used 1% milk, but 2% or whole milk could also be substituted. I haven’t tried it with skim milk, but I’m sure that would be pretty great too, just a little less creamy.
And then some salt and pepper. To taste mostly. And here’s where the Parmesan comes in. 5 tablespoons (or more – to taste) gets stirred into the delicious cream sauce.
Talk about yum.
While the sauce is thickening and being made, the pasta can be boiled and the chicken cooked.
I chopped the chicken into small pieces and cooked it with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and my favorite chicken seasoning. Mrs. Dash’s chicken grilling blends – I love that chicken seasoning!
Cook the chicken until cooked through and add to the drained pasta.
Then really just some combining and a little stirring and it’s ready! Add in the mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes.
I used cherry tomatoes because I am obsessed with cherry tomatoes.
You can definitely leave them out or even substitute sun-dried tomatoes in their spot.
And feel free to change out the other veggies to your liking. Some suggestions: peas, asparagus, corn, peppers, zucchini. All would work great with the pasta and the sauce. This dish is so very, very versatile!
- 2 cups penne pasta measured when dry
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 cup mushrooms chopped
- 1 cup packed baby spinach
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk I used 1%
- 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cook the penne pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile chop the chicken breast into small pieces and sprinkle the pieces with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash chicken grilling blends to taste.
- Lightly coat your skillet with 2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil.
- Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Place the chicken in the skillet and then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear.
- As the chicken cooks, stir the pieces occasionally so they brown evenly. If any of the pieces start to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low.
- To prepare the sauce, combine the olive oil, butter, and minced garlic in a medium sized pan over medium to low heat. Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour until a thick mixture has been created. Slowly add in the chicken broth and then slowly add in the milk. Increase the heat and allow the mixture to get to a boiling point and then reduce and allow to simmer until thickened stirring occasionally. Add in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped mushrooms with the sauce and stir for one more minute.
- Add the cooked chicken, spinach, and tomatoes to the bowl with the pasta.
- Pour the sauce over the ingredients and stir until combined.
- Sprinkle the extra cheese on top, adding more or less to personal preference.
- Serve immediately.
More pasta dishes: