This loaded chicken bacon spinach pasta dish is tossed in a thick and creamy garlic Parmesan sauce. It’s a perfect blend of flavors that will make you think you’re eating at a restaurant!
This tastes like it’s from a restaurant.” Ahhh…music to my food blogging ears. Thank you hubby. He doesn’t lie either. In fact, he’s brutally honest about my recipes. But this one, is undoubtedly a keeper. The fresh tomatoes and spinach pair perfectly together, and I never met a creamy garlic Parmesan sauce that I didn’t like, the chicken gives this pasta dish the protein that it needs, and finally, the bacon. Who can really say no to a loaded pasta dish that’s topped with crispy bacon? I really don’t think that anyone could.
I personally love to prepare this meal in a cast iron skillet. Searing the chicken in a cast iron skillet helps set the tone for the rest of the meal by giving the pan a ton of delicious flavor that you later use to cook the sauce in. It’s part of what makes this pasta dish so incredibly flavorful.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning a combo of thyme, oregano, & basil
Salt/Pepper to taste
4 bacon strips
10 oz. penne pasta
Garlic Parmesan Sauce
2 teaspoons garlic minced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 + 1/3 cups half and half
1 + 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese shredded
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
2 cups spinach uncooked
In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat.
Butterfly the chicken breast and cut the seam to create 2 thinner slices, each about an inch thick. Season each side generously with Italian seasoning and desired amounts of salt and pepper.
Sear the chicken in the hot skillet on each side. Refrain from moving the chicken around as it sizzles, it will hinder the nice golden sear color. If the pan gets too hot, reduce the heat to medium. Each side will take 3-5 minutes. Once each side is a nice, golden brown and the middle is cooked, set the chicken aside.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the bacon to the same skillet. Low and slow is the best way to cook bacon.
While the bacon cooks, prepare the pasta according to package instructions. Once done, drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking, toss, and set aside.
Once the bacon is cooked and crisp on each side, use tongs to remove it from the pan. Leave 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan, and add the garlic. Cook for about 60 seconds.
Increase the heat to medium and gradually add in the flour, whisking constantly.
Temper the half and half by heating it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the half and half to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high, stirring constantly. Once it starts to lightly bubble, decrease the heat to low. Mix in the Parmesan cheese. Once well-combined, add the tomatoes, spinach, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes have softened slightly. Use a silicone spatula to gently mix in the penne.
Slice the chicken into strips and place it back in the pan, over the pasta. Sprinkle the top with bacon, and serve!