When I lived in Chicago, there was an Italian place about two blocks from my apartment that I walked past every time I went anywhere. Eventually, I ventured inside and fell in love with a pasta dish on their menu. The restaurant eventually closed, and it’s been at least 10 years since I had that pasta dish. But I still think about it regularly.
Over time, the specifics of the dish have kind of faded. (Was it asparagus or spinach?) But the memory that remains is how much I LOVED it! I would seriously crave it, and I remember ordering it for delivery a couple times even though I was only two blocks away.
What sticks out in my fuzzy memory is a creamy garlic sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken, and some sort of green. This recipe is my attempt at creating something that I love as much as that pasta…even if it’s not exactly the same.
Start by browning the chicken breast cubes, sprinkling them with kosher salt as they cook. They’ll simmer more in the sauce later, so they don’t have to be 100% cooked through at this point. When they’re sufficiently brown, remove them from the pan and set them aside.
Then add the sliced mushrooms to the pan with a little drizzle of olive oil. When they’re soft and almost done, sprinkle with salt and a little bit of garlic powder. (I remember the mushrooms being crazy good in the original dish.) Then stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts. Add the mushrooms and spinach to the plate with the chicken.
Add the butter and garlic to the pan and cook for a few minutes until the garlic is golden and fragrant. You’ll have WAY more butter than garlic, and that’s okay.
After 30 seconds or so, sprinkle the flour in the pan, and stir to form a paste. A wonderful butter, garlic, and flour paste. Cook this paste for two minutes or so to let the flour cook. If it starts to get a little dark, that’s perfectly fine. You just don’t want it to burn.
When it’s nice and golden, add in the milk, starting with a tablespoon or two. Whisk it into the paste until its smooth. Then add another tablespoon or two. Once you have about a quarter cup or so in, it should be completely smooth and you can add in the rest of the milk without creating lumps. Just whisk it thoroughly. Then add in the broth.
Bring the sauce to a boil and then add the chicken, mushrooms, and spinach, along with the sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. Reduce the heat to low. After about 5 minutes, taste the sauce and add salt and garlic powder if you want. (I did!) Then continue to simmer it for another 10 to 15 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta and drain. Then add the pasta directly to the pan and stir. Yum!
The Recipe: Creamy Garlic Chicken Pasta
- 1 lb chicken beast, cubed
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 ½ oz sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
- 1 small jar artichokes, roughly chopped
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 c. milk
- 1 c. chicken broth
- ¼ to ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ to 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ lb farfalle or bowtie pasta, cooked according to package directions
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken breast, sprinkle with kosher salt. Brown on both sides. Remove and set aside.
- Add mushrooms to pan with a small drizzle of olive oil. Cook until mushrooms start to soften. Sprinkle with salt and about ¼ tsp garlic powder. Then stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Remove mushrooms and spinach from pan and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add butter and melt. Then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Sprinkle flour over butter and garlic. Stir to form a paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is golden.
- Add milk about a tablespoon at a time, whisking to incorporate butter/flour mixture. Once milk is added, whisk in broth. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low. Add chicken, mushrooms, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and artichokes. Simmer uncovered on low for about 15 to 20 minutes. After about 5 minutes, taste the sauce and add salt and garlic powder to taste. (I added about ¼ tsp each garlic powder and salt.)
- Serve with cooked pasta. Top with grated parmesan.