Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Italian-inspired dinner with the best homemade creamy pasta sauce! The sun-dried tomato pasta sauce is made from scratch using basil, red pepper flakes, garlic, paprika, cream, and shredded Mozzarella cheese.
PREP TIME: 20 mins
COOK TIME: 20 mins
TOTAL TIME: 40 mins
SERVINGS: 4 servings
3 garlic cloves , minced
4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb chicken breast tenderloins , sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 cup half and half (or use ½ cup heavy cream + ½ cup milk)
1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded (do not use fresh Mozzarella, use pre-shredded Mozzarella)
8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free, use gluten free brown rice pasta)
1 tablespoon basil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup reserved cooked pasta water or more
¼ teaspoon salt to taste
In a large skillet, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar) for 1 minute on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the skillet, leaving the olive oil.
Add sliced chicken (salted and lightly covered in paprika for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain the pasta.
Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller pieces and add them back to the skillet with chicken.
To make creamy pasta sauce, add half-and-half (see substitution for half-and-half in the Recipe Notes section below) and
Mozzarella cheese to the skillet, and bring to a gentle boil.
Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms.
Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce, and stir to combine.
Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
If the creamy sauce is too thick: Add about ½ cup of reserved cooked pasta water to the skillet to thin it out. Do not add all of pasta water at once – you might need less or more of it.
Season the chicken pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.
Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
What is half-and-half? Substitute ½ cup of milk + ½ cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of half-and-half.
If using sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained olive oil.
Do not use fresh Mozzarella. Fresh Mozzarella is usually sold as a large ball or small balls in a brine or water solution. Do not shred fresh Mozzarella. Use pre-shredded Mozzarella cheese sold in bags.