Weeknight Shorts: Creamy Pasta

As February comes to an end and we look forward to the first signs of spring next month, we still need to be ready for Old Man Winter to show us a thing or two. Be ready with great comfort food meals that can be assembled in minutes in the middle of the week. Just make sure you have a few fun ingredients on hand and some stirring stamina!

You'll need to be stirring the pasta in its seasoned, creamy broth mixture for about ten minutes. Now, only half of that time is a constant stir, but you'll need to give it a stir every couple of minutes after that and it can be a little surprising how much arm strength it can require, especially near the end as the mixture becomes more thick and your arm begins to ache a bit. But trust me, the effort is well worth it.

The add-ins here — sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, and spinach — are just some of my favorites. You can opt to work with what you have on hand or otherwise prefer. Chunks of tender steak and roasted peppers? Opt for a vegetarian version with caramelized onions and peppers. Even some diced ham and peas will work. Make it yours. Heck, you can even opt to leave out the add-ins and just enjoy a more traditional alfredo meal. Feel free to use fettuccine instead of penne too!

I love just warming a loaf of French bread and pouring a glass of chilled white wine to complete this great meal. You could also toss together a quick green salad. However you plan to serve it, keep it simple since that's the beauty of this fun shortcut.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Chicken Pasta

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained lightly
  • 1 cup cooked chopped chicken
  • 1 generous handful fresh spinach leaves, chopped lightly to make them bite-sized
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Use a skillet large enough to accommodate the pasta and add-ins.

Place the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the milk, chicken broth, butter, and garlic. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat; add the pasta.

Stir the pasta constantly until it is slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Once the pasta is softened, reduce the heat to medium and stir every couple of minutes.

After another 6 minutes or so, the pasta should be almost cooked but there should still be liquid covering the base of the skillet. Add the cream and parmesan; mix.

Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken, and spinach. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until the sauce is thickened, the pasta is cooked, and the add-ins are warmed through.

Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately, garnished with additional parmesan, if desired.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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