“Chicken Penne with Bacon and Spinach in Creamy Tomato Sauce ~
1 pound boneless and skinless chicken thick in size
6 bacon strips of choice. Try turkey bacon
5 medium tomatoes chopped in cubes
10 oz. package of fresh spinach
1 cup cream or try almond milk for a healthier option
1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
5 garlic cloves minced
8 oz. penne pasta
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning thyme, oregano, basil – combined, more if desired
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Arrange bacon strips and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter that will absorb extra grease. Chop into 1 inch slices. Rub chicken in seasoning mixture and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add chicken breasts and cook on each side on medium high heat for a total of 3-4 minutes until it’s nicely browned. If chicken is still pink in the center, reduce heat to medium and cook covered for several minutes until no longer pink in the center. Add sliced garlic in the last minute of cooking chicken, cook for 1-2 minutes until browned and fragrant.
Remove chicken from the pan, slice it in thick strips and return only half of it back to the skillet. Also, make sure that all liquid, if any, is removed after cooking the chicken.
Add chopped tomatoes to the remaining chicken and cook for 3 minutes on high until tomatoes release their juices. Add fresh spinach in 4 consecutive batches until it wilts.
Add half and half and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce to simmer and slowly add grated Parmesan cheese – until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy. Remove from heat.
In the meantime bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse.
Add pasta and bacon and stir until fully coated in Now it’s time to add the 1/2 of chicken that we removed earlier and slightly mix it in with the rest”