1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or use 3-4 oz fat-free sun dried tomatoes
1 lb chicken breast tenders
paprika (just a little bit)
1 cup half and half
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free, use Tinkyada gluten free brown rice pasta)
1 tablespoon basil (if using dry basil), if using fresh basil you can add more
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (at least, add more to taste)
1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water (or more)
salt, to taste
Note- if using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to
drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve
2 tablespoons of this drained oil for sautéing as described
1. In a large pan, on high heat, sautee garlic and sun-dried
tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of oil (reserved
from the sun-dried tomatoes jar - see note above) for 1 minute
until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the
pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken tenders, salted and lightly
covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high heat for 1
minute on each side. Remove from heat.
2. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve
some cooked pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold
water (to stop cooking).
Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller bits and add them back
to the skillet with chicken. Add half and half and cheese to the
skillet, too, and bring to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce to
simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and
creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick - don't worry -
you'll be adding some cooked pasta water soon. Add cooked
pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine.
Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red
pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
3. Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water because
the creamy sauce will be too thick (do not add all water at once
- you might need less or more of it). This will water down the
thickness of the cheese sauce and make it creamier.
Immediately, season the 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.
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