Tuscan Chicken Pasta is rigatoni pasta tossed in cream sauce with spinach, cheese, and tomatoes and topped with baked seasoned chicken. If this sounds good to you, be sure to try my Tuscan Chicken and Tuscan Stuffed Shells.
Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Tuscan Chicken Pasta got rave reviews from everyone who tried this dish. It is a phenomenal mash-up of simple flavors that pull together for a strong Tuscan vibe. If you want a saucy, creamy, flavorful chicken dinner, this is the recipe to make!
There are two parts to this recipe–the chicken and the pasta with sauce. Make sure you have an oven-safe skillet (like a cast-iron skillet) to use.
Chicken: I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe.
Pasta: Tube-shaped pasta, like rigatoni, is perfect for this creamy sauce. You could use pasta you have on hand, or make your own homemade shaped pasta.
Sauce: The sauce is a cream sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach (among other ingredients) added to the mix. I will let you know how to soften the sun-dried tomatoes before they go into the sauce.
Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is at least 30% fat (as opposed to half and half, which is only 10-18% fat).
Milk: I used half heavy cream and half milk for the sauce.
How to Cook the Chicken
The first thing to do in this recipe is to prepare and cook the chicken. First, drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken and rub it in. Next, combine the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken.
After the chicken has been seasoned, heat up the remaining olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken for 3 minutes on each side. The chicken will not be cooked through at this point, but searing the chicken gives it a nice browning on the outside.
Place the skillet (with the chicken) into the oven to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. After the chicken has been cooked, remove it from the skillet and set it on a plate. Tent it to keep it warm as you make the pasta and sauce.
How to Soften Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Before you make the sauce, be sure to soften and chop the sun-dried tomatoes. They are softened so they blend into the sauce (and not be crunchy). The packaging may give instructions on how to soften them. However, if not, first, bring a pot of water to a boil. Next, add the tomatoes to the boiling water, cover the pot, and bring to a simmer.
Let the sun-dried tomatoes simmer for about 3 minutes. Then, drain them and let them cool before chopping. Set them aside until ready to add them to the sauce.
How to Make Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Follow the package instructions to cook the pasta al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside. To make the sauce, use the same skillet you seared the chicken. To the skillet, add butter and melt it over medium heat. Next, add the shallots and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the shallots are softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
After cooking the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic, add the tomato paste, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine; then, stir in the heavy cream before adding the spinach, parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes.
Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. Finally, add the cooked pasta to the sauce and top with sliced or chopped chicken. Serve the Tuscan Chicken Pasta topped with more parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, for garnish.
Can I Make the Tuscan Chicken Pasta Sauce without Milk?
Yes, you can use just heavy cream in the sauce (3 cups total) if you leave out the milk. In fact, that is the first way we tested this recipe. Everyone loved it; it was super rich and creamy. However, when it came to reheating the leftovers in the microwave, the heavy cream would separate, leaving you with LOTS of oil (which is not the most appetizing).
Using half milk and half cream made the sauce slightly lighter, but still rich and creamy. If you are planning to reheat the sauce, no matter how you decide to make it, reheat it slowly in a saucepan over low heat on the stovetop.
Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Tuscan Chicken Pasta is rigatoni pasta tossed in cream sauce with spinach, cheese, and tomatoes and topped with baked seasoned chicken.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, approximately 1 pound
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces rigatoni pasta noodles, cooked al dente according to package instructions
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 57g) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup (40g) shallot, finely diced
- ¼ cup (27.5g) sun-dried tomatoes, softened in hot water and chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ cups (357g) heavy cream
- 1½ cups (245g) milk
- 1 cup (30g) fresh spinach
- 1 cup (100g) parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for garnish)
- 1 cup (149g) cherry tomatoes, halved
- fresh parsley, for garish
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over chicken on all sides and rub it in.
In a small bowl combine paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Sprinkle seasoning mixture over chicken on all sides.
In a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add chicken. Sear for 3 minutes on each side (or until browned). The chicken will not be cooked through at this point.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Place the chicken onto a plate and tent to keep warm as you prepare the pasta and sauce.
Add rigatoni to a pot of boiling salted water. Cook al dente according to package instructions (about 14 minutes for rigatoni).
In the same large skillet as you cooked the chicken, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook until the shallots are softened (3-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add tomato paste, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Add heavy cream and milk. Stir to combine.
Add spinach, parmesan cheese, and tomatoes. Toss to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cheese is fully melted and spinach is wilted, 8-10 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat.
Slice or cube the chicken and add to the pasta and sauce.
Serve topped with more parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.