This is one of those meals that is basically impossible to mess up. It's easy & delicious comfort food with bold flavors that could fool you into believing it was from a fine Italian restaurant. The photo doesn't even make it look that yummy - I apologize. Lighting is never good at night especially when the sun sets at 4pm now. Ugh. Despite how appetizing or unappetizing it looks though - I promise it definitely IS yummy.
Usually I have some ground rules for myself when ordering at restaurants. It may sound silly, but typically I don't like to order something that I feel I could easily make at home. There are times though that I just have to go with my gut (quite literally) and order whatever sounds best at the time. I feel like if I saw this dish on a menu, I would definitely order it - regardless of my ability to easily make it at home. Because lets be honest, even the easiest meal to make at home is still more difficult than going out to eat. ;)
Should you choose to stay in and cook your own Italian feast...here is a dish I recommend!
Sundried-Tomato Basil & Mozzarella Chicken Pasta
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4 oz sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut (packaged, not in oil)
1 lb chicken breast, cut into smaller pieces
Salt & paprika (for sprinkling on chicken breast)
1 cup half and half
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free, use Tinkyada gluten free brown rice pasta)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tablespoon basil if using dry basil)
1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water (or more)
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
In a large pan, on high heat, saute garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in 2 tablespoons of oil for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.
Cook pasta according to package instructions (I always prefer al dente). Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water (to stop cooking).
Add sun-dried tomatoes back to the skillet with chicken. Add half and half and cheese to the skillet, too, and bring to boil. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add basil, stir to combine.
Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water to thin the creamy sauce (do not add all water at once - you might need less or more of it). Season the pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.
Recipe adapted from Julia's Album