Penne Pasta with a Lightened-up Parmesan Cream Sauce

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A creamy chicken penne pasta dish with mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Easy, 30-minute dinner that can be made in ONE pot!

ONE POT Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The cream sauce is secretly LIGHTENED-UP. So delicious and easy! I chelseasmessyapron.com

Penne Pasta

I worked at a local sit-down restaurant all throughout my high school and college years. I loved the job, the people, and (most importantly…?), I loved the food! The menu would change every six months but there was a handful of classic dishes that always stayed the same. The creamy chicken penne pasta was one of the most popular dishes and in all the 7 years I worked there, this dish was never removed or changed from the menu.

Today I’m bringing you my own twist on this “famous” creamy chicken penne pasta. The penne pasta in the restaurant I used to work at actually had a few more ingredients (shrimp and artichokes), but I’m simplifying and lightening it a bit. This still isn’t a tremendously healthy dish, but this penne pasta recipe is FAR healthier than heavy cream-based sauces.

ONE POT Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The cream sauce is secretly LIGHTENED-UP. So delicious and easy! I via chelseasmessyapron.com

ONE POT Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The cream sauce is secretly LIGHTENED-UP. So delicious and easy! I Recipe via chelseasmessyapron.com

ONE POT Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The cream sauce is secretly LIGHTENED-UP. So delicious and easy! I recipe from chelseasmessyapron.com

It’s also still super simple and quick to make — you can have this on the table in 30 minutes or less!

Technically this dish can be made in ONE pot, but it does take a little bit longer to do it the one pot route. For one pot, you cook the pasta first in the pot and then drain it. In that same pot, you can then quickly sautΓ© the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, remove those and make the cream sauce. Once the cream sauce is finished, everything gets tossed together and it’s ready to DEVOUR.

If you want to make this dish a little quicker, you can use 2 pots. One pot cooks the pasta while the other prepares the mushrooms + tomatoes and then the cream sauce.

Either way this comes together quickly and it’s so delicious! Feel free to double the cream sauce if you like things extra creamy, but it won’t be nearly as light of a dish with double the sauce πŸ™‚

Enjoy!

ONE POT Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The cream sauce is secretly LIGHTENED-UP. So delicious and easy! I Easy recipe from chelseasmessyapron.com

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Chicken Penne Pasta with a Lightened-up Parmesan Cream Sauce

4.88 from 8 votes
A (Lighter) Creamy Penne Chicken Pasta Dish with mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Easy, 30-minute dinner that can be made in ONE pot!
Print Recipe

Chicken Penne Pasta with a Lightened-up Parmesan Cream Sauce

4.88 from 8 votes
A (Lighter) Creamy Penne Chicken Pasta Dish with mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Easy, 30-minute dinner that can be made in ONE pot!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword penne pasta
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 581kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $6.21

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces Penne Pasta (use Barilla Pronto for super quick prep!)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (prepared/leftover) rotisserie or grilled chicken, shredded
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Parmesan Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil from the sundried tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or chicken broth; stock has more flavor)
  • 1 cup milk (1%, 2%, or whole milk; 1% for the lightest version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Optional: fresh thyme

Instructions

  • Cook the penne pasta according to package directions*. Drain and set aside.
  • In the same pot, over medium heat, add in 1 tablespoon of oil from the sundried tomatoes. Add in the mushrooms and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add in the coarsely chopped tomatoes and stir for another 1-2 minutes. Dump this mixture on top of the set aside Penne.
  • In the same pot again (return to the burners and put at medium-high heat), add 1 more tablespoon sundried tomato oil OR olive oil and the butter. Once the butter is melted, stir in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Slowly add in the flour, whisking constantly. Whisk for one minute.
  • Slowly add in the chicken broth while whisking and then slowly add in the milk while continuing to whisk. 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 Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Once the sauce is thickened, add back in the pasta + veggie mixture. Add in the leftover rotisserie chicken (or leftover grilled chicken) and spinach to warm through (get the spinach to wilt) for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir the ingredients until combined and add in the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Stir and enjoy immediately garnished with fresh thyme if desired.

Recipe Notes

*If you want this dish a little quicker and don't mind dirtying another pot, cook the pasta in one pot and as soon as that's going, start the mushrooms cooking in another pot.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 581kcal | Carbohydrates: 74.3g | Protein: 24.1g | Fat: 21.3g | Cholesterol: 40.1mg | Sodium: 546.9mg | Fiber: 4.4g | Sugar: 8.2g

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ONE POT Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The cream sauce is secretly LIGHTENED-UP. So delicious and easy! I chelseasmessyapron.com #recipe #penne #pasta #easy #quick #one #pot #kidfriendly #delicious #dinner
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Recipe Rating




48 Comments

  1. This lightened up cream sauce sounds perfect to me! I often crave alfredo, but I don’t want all that cream…totally making this next time instead!

  2. I lovelovelove this pasta! Like seriously, this Parmesan cream sauce sounds like the bomb. I could eat pasta everyday and never get tired of it, so I totally need to make this. Pinning! πŸ™‚

  3. Yum! I’m all for saving a few calories when I’m eating a giant bowl of creamy pasta! Looks amazing!

  4. I was going to make a chicken broccoli alfredo tonight and this sauce looks so good, I am totally trying it! I don’t like eating all that cream and butter (well I do, but my jeans don’t) so this looks perfect! Thanks so much!

  5. Just made this sauce tonight for a chicken, broccoli, mushroom pasta dish…amazing! I could have eaten it even without the cheese in it, it was THAT good! Definitely a new family favorite!

  6. 5 stars
    Came across this recipe yesterday and was skeptical the sauce could be creamy without some of the traditional ingredients. Let me say, this sauce was better than than the rest! Thanks for sharing such a gem! This will be a go-to from now on!

    1. Yay!! I’m so happy to hear this was better than a heavy cream sauce πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for the comment! I appreciate your review πŸ™‚

  7. 5 stars
    I made this for family tonight exactly as written (used whole milk) with the only change being I used spaghetti noodles since I was out of penne (darn it!). It was faaaaaaabulous! I will say that with spaghetti noodles it wants to clump up so I will definitely use the recommended penne or my favorite, cavatappi next time. Really a great recipe – loved the idea of using the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes!

    1. Yayyy!! I’m soo glad you enjoyed this! And bummer about the spaghetti noodles but that’s a great tip! Thanks so much for your comment! πŸ™‚

  8. I made this last night. Didn’t have sun dried tomatoes, but honestly didn’t miss them…it was delicious!

  9. Great dish. I made it with almond milk, veggie broth and nutritional yeast. My son said it taste like restaurant quality. I’m wondering about the calorie count? Thank you.

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