My all-time favorite type of food to eat is Italian. It’s been my favorite for a long time and I could pretty much eat something Italian everyday. This past summer I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Italy and it was amazing. This was something I had wanted to do for a really long time even before I got into cooking but my more recent interest into cooking made the trip even that more meaningful. I was able to try so many of my favorite dishes from the states as well as other dishes I’ve never tried.
The trip was truly a culinary as well as a cultural experience. One of my favorite things we did was a tour through Tuscany and one of our stops was at a family run organic farm. We were able to tour the farm and see their crops, livestock, and wine making operations. We ate a meal that was wholly prepared from the farm which included pasta, cheeses, prosciutto, wines, and more all made on site. The picture above is a look at part of the farm. When I first stepped off the bus here my senses came alive. You could just smell the olives in the air and it was such an awesome smell and unforgettable day.
This dish is one of my favorite Italian recipes to cook because of the sauce. I love pink sauces because you get a little of the white Alfredo sauce and a little bit of a tomato sauce mixed together into one delectable combination. It’s a rich sauce but not overly so. It does have a good bit of heavy cream in the recipe but it’s worth every drop. You can substitute half and half for the heavy cream if you really insist. I’ve done this once before to try to make the dish more healthy but I have to warn you its not as good without the heavy cream.
I found a really great method to grill chicken inside a while back that I incorporated into this recipe. It involves searing the chicken on high heat and then letting it finish cooking in the oven. I’ve included the link at the bottom of this post as I use it all the time when I’m making chicken strips for different recipes.
One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my Thermapen. The best thing about this thermometer is that it’s actually true to its name as an instant read thermometer. Most instant reads take at least 20 seconds to register the proper temperature and this one takes 3! It’s definitely a bit pricey for an instant read but its helped me cook lots of different meats with confidence and I don’t have to fool around with waiting on it to register the temperature. It helps me cook things right to the right temperature instead of over cooking something just to make sure its cooked all the way through.
Bowtie pasta is my favorite pasta to use. I really like the shape and thickness of it. While talking about pasta it is important to note a few things. One that is really important is to make sure not to over cook your pasta and cook it to al dente. This is really important so the pasta holds its form and doesn’t taste mushy. Also it’s really important to make sure to salt the water as this is the only way to season the pasta itself. I forget to do this all the time but it really is a big help. One final note is Italians are big about saucing their pasta versus serving the pasta and sauce separately. This helps to ensure the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce and you get some in every bite.
I separated the recipe into its respective areas below. When cooking dishes with parts that have to be prepared separately I really try hard for everything to finish together so its all still warm for serving. It can be quite difficult sometimes but if you prep ahead and follow these instructions, everything should be ready at about the same time.
Grilled Chicken Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce
- Box of Bowtie pasta
- 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 lb chicken breast, cut into strips
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 chopped sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes (11 oz), diced and partially seeded
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp white wine
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add about two tablespoons of Kosher salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Once you’ve started the water, start working on the chicken.
- Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.
- Drain pasta and set aside. Remove the pot from heat but save it for later.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Preheat an oven-safe grill pan to high heat.
- Rub chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
- Make sure the pan has come up to heat. Grill chicken for 1.5 minutes per side be careful not to move it while it’s cooking so you get good grill marks.
- Move the chicken to the oven and cook 8-10 minutes or until the internal temperature has reached 165F. Once chicken is in the oven, start working on the sauce.
- Remove chicken from pan immediately so it stops cooking.
- Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat
- Add sun dried tomatoes and saute for about a minute. Add garlic and saute for another minute until fragrant.
- Pull the pan from the heat and pour heavy cream in slowly while whisking to incorporate.
- Move the pan back over the heat and allow the sauce to just barely simmer (do not let it boil fully). Turn the heat down to low.
- Add wine and stir to incorporate. Stir in tomatoes and Parmesan and allow the Parmesan to melt.
- Add basil, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the pasta back in the pot it was cooked in and add the sauce, and mix together to incorporate.
- Spoon onto plates and top with a strip (or two) of grilled chicken. Garnish with some fresh basil. Enjoy!
The sauce in this recipe was adapted from the first link. The other links were sources I used in this article and recipe.