Creamy Chicken Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Sauce – comfort food dinner with the best homemade creamy pasta sauce!
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 lb chicken breast tenderloins
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded
- 8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free, use gluten free brown rice pasta)
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water or more
- 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
- In a large skillet, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar) for 1 minute on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
- Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the skillet, leaving the olive oil.
- Add sliced chicken (salted and lightly covered in paprika for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain the pasta.
- Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller pieces and add them back to the skillet with chicken.
- To make creamy pasta sauce, add half-and-half (see substitution for half-and-half in the Recipe Notes section below) and Mozzarella cheese to the skillet, and bring to a gentle boil.
- Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms.
- Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce, and stir to combine.
- Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- If the creamy sauce is too thick: Add about 1/2 cup of reserved cooked pasta water to the skillet to thin it out. Do not add all of pasta water at once - you might need less or more of it.
- Season the chicken pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.
- Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
- What is half-and-half? Substitute 1/2 cup of milk + 1/2 cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of half-and-half.
- If using sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained olive oil.
- Do not use fresh Mozzarella. Fresh Mozzarella is usually sold as a large ball or small balls in a brine or water solution. Do not shred fresh Mozzarella. Use pre-shredded Mozzarella cheese sold in bags.