Garlic Spinach Chicken Pasta

let me just start off by saying i love italian food- if i could eat pizza & pasta everyday (and get away with it- i probably would)... but since life is all about balance (not to mention it would probably be super unhealthy), i switch my meals up. however, with that said, i have tried a bunch of pizza & pasta over the years from a ton of places and nothing compares to this recipe that i'm about to share with you all. it's very easy to make and i'm thanking Pinterest right now for this new fave meal. 

the original recipe had bacon, among other things; i took the recipe and recreated it w/minor changes to a taste that worked for me (made it twice already!)

prep time: 10 mins
total time: 25 mins (tops!)

-penne pasta
-boneless chicken 
-crushed red peppers! 
-5 roma tomatoes/3 firm tomatoes
-2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese 
-1-2 cloves of garlic (varies on preference)
-2 to 3 cups of spinach (varies on preference)
-standard italian seasoning, basil (fresh preferred) & oregano
- 1 &1/2 cup half & half (or 1/2 heavy whipping cream, 1/2 milk- what i used!)

Preheat your convection oven/oven to 400 F.
Place a pot of water to boil (for the pasta).

 Take your whole tomatoes and chop them to a decent cube size that will fit into your chopper/blender (doesn't matter how they're cut because they'll be blended in a few). Add minced garlic, crushed red peppers, oregano, basil (fresh if possible), Italian seasoning and put in a convection oven on broil for 5 mins. Switch to bake for another 5 mins and remove. Proceed to blend/lightly puree and set aside. (this step really makes all the difference in this recipe since the garlic and tomatoes are not only baked together but blended as well = flavor overload)

In a large skillet, on high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add chicken and cook on one side on high heat for 1 minute. While it cooks, sprinkle the uncooked sides of the chicken with paprika, crushed red peppers & Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over and cook on the other side for 1 minute on high heat. Repeat until the chicken is fully cooked & no long has a pink center. 
Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm. 

To the same pan (but without chicken), add tomato/garlic puree, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, 1/3 of the chicken (sliced into small strips). Mix everything.

Add half and half and bring to boil. Only after half and half starts boiling, add grated Parmesan cheese.

Immediately reduce to simmer and stir, until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, only about 1 minute (at most 2 minutes). Then, immediately remove from heat. Season with more crushed red pepper and salt, if needed.

In the mean time, cook pasta according to package instructions. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Season with more salt if necessary. Slice the remaining 2/3 of chicken into thin strips. To serve, top the pasta with chicken strips and grated Parmesan cheese.

tag #thelipstickpantry if you recreate this recipe so we can see! enjoy! xo