Open Arms of Minnesota

Weekly Recipe #286: Creamy Chicken, Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Photo credit: Patsy/Flickr

By Amanda Supak, Dietetic Intern [University of Minnesota – Fairview]

When I get home from work and I’m too tired to cook an elaborate meal, this is my favorite recipe to whip up. The total prep and cook time is around only 25 minutes, and it’s designed to be quick because you’re prepping the veggies and chicken while the pasta cooks. Another benefit of this recipe is that it is made of relatively inexpensive ingredients.

This dish is a great way to get more vegetables into your diet. One serving provides 70% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, 40% for Vitamin C, 20% for Calcium, 20% for Iron and 32% for fiber. Additionally, the chicken makes it extra high in protein. Keep in mind that you can add any vegetables you would like, such as broccoli, bell peppers or peas!

Creamy Chicken, Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Adapted from BudgetBytes

(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Two 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly cracked pepper
  • One 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese
  • One 9-oz. bag fresh spinach

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10) minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.
  2. While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes).
  3. While the onion and garlic are cooking, cube the chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Toss with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat to medium high, and add the chicken to the onions and garlic for about 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato paste, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir to combine.
  5. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. 6. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 410 calories, 11 g total fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 25 g protein, 53 g carbohydrates (7 g sugar), 8 g fiber, 510 mg sodium

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