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Spinach And Artichoke Chicken Pasta With Bacon And Tomatoes In Asiago Cream Sauce
Food & Drink
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (thyme, oregano, basil - combined)
3 oz fresh baby spinach, uncooked (1/2 of the bag)
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped in large cubes
1 can (15 oz) artichoke hearts, drained REALLY WELL, and chopped (not too fine)
1/4 (maximum 1/2 teaspoon) crushed red pepper flakes
5 garlic cloves, minced
6 bacon strips, COOKED, DRAINED OF FAT, AND CHOPPED
1 and 1/3 cups half and half
2/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more)
8 oz penne pasta (for gluten-free version, use gluten-free brown-rice penne)
1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated, for serving
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until hot on medium heat. Add sliced chicken (I used thinly sliced boneless and skinless chicken thighs - they are very flavorful!), and cook sliced chicken on one side on medium heat for 1 minute. While it cooks, sprinkle the uncooked sides of the chicken with paprika and Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over, and cook on the other side for 2-4 more minutes on medium heat, until the chicken is completely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan.
To the same pan (but without chicken), add fresh uncooked baby spinach, chopped tomatoes, artichoke hearts (drained really well and roughly chopped), 1/3 of the cooked chicken, crushed red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and half the bacon (already cooked and drained of fat). Mix everything.
Add half and half and bring to boil. Immediately reduce to simmer, and keep stirring until spinach starts to wilt (don't let it wilt too much and overcook). As spinach starts to wilt and reduces considerably in volume, add grated Asiago cheese, and keep stirring on medium simmer until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, only about 1 minute (at most 2 minutes). Then, immediately remove from heat. Season the sauce with salt - I use 1/4 teaspoon of regular salt and that's usually perfect. You might want to use more salt if needed.
In the mean time bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water and drain again.
Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce, stir to coat well, and reheat. To serve, add the remaining half of bacon (cooked and drained of fat) and the remaining 2/3 of sliced chicken (warmed) on top of pasta either right in the skillet or in the serving plates. Top with grated Asiago cheese