6 bacon strips cooked, drained off fat, and chopped
1 pound chicken (skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins)
5 garlic cloves minced
½ c. Parmesan cheese shredded
1.5 c. heavy cream
3 c. fresh spinach or 1 c. cooked spinach
¼ tsp red pepper flakes crushed
10 ounces penne pasta (for a gluten-free version, use gluten-free brown-rice penne)
5 tomatoes (medium, chopped in large cubes)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ c. Parmesan cheese shredded, for serving
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning (thyme, oregano, basil – combined)
salt to taste
Step 1: In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 4 minutes on one side. Sprinkle the uncooked sides of the chicken while it cooks with paprika, Italian seasoning, and salt. Flip and continue to cook for additional 3 minutes. Then, adjust the heat to low-medium. Flip the chicken once more and cook for a few minutes more, covered, until the centre of the chicken is no longer pink. When done, take the chicken out of the pan and keep it warm.
Step 2: Add the heavy cream to the now-empty pan and bring to a boil. Add the shredded Parmesan cheese after the heavy cream begins boiling. Quickly adjust the heat to low-medium heat, stir, and cook for an additional 1 to 3 minutes more until the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy.
Step 3: Now, add the chopped tomatoes to the creamy sauce along with fresh spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat until the spinach begins to wilt and sinks into the sauce. Cut the chicken into small strips and add 1/3 of it to the sauce along with half of the bacon (cooked and drained). Stir and take off the heat.
Step 4: Following the package directions, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water. Drain when done and add to the skillet with the sauce. Reheat over low heat.
Step 5: To serve, top the pasta with the rest of the bacon and chicken. Sprinkle the remaining half cup of the shredded Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!