· 3 garlic cloves (, minced)· 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes· 2 tablespoons olive oil· 1 lb chicken breast tenderloins (, sliced)· 1/4 teaspoon salt· 1/4 teaspoon paprika· 1 cup half and half ((or use 1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/2 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· 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes· 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water (or more)· 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
Step 1In 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.Step 2Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the skillet, leaving the olive oil.Step 3Add sliced chicken (salted and lightly covered in paprika for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.Step 4Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain the pasta.Step 5Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller pieces and add them back to the skillet with chicken.Step 6To 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.Step 7Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms.Step 8Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce, and stir to combine.Step 9Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.Step 10If the creamy sauce is too thick: Add about 1/2 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.Step 11Season 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.Step 12Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.