Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta with Peas
I have an inner circle of trusted recipes. As with an inner circle of friends, each has its own personality, and I rely on it for different reasons. There’s the chic recipe I call when I need to impress my in-laws; the laidback recipe I dial when my week’s been crazy and cooking anything more advanced than a frozen pizza sounds exhausting; the romantic recipe that helps set the mood for date night in. Then, there is the rare, beautiful recipe that I can depend on for anything at all. This Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta with Peas is one of those special finds.
Ready in 30 minutes and stirred together in a single skillet, Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta with Peas is easy enough for a busy weeknight, but its artful balance of flavors makes it better than many meals I’ve ordered in white tablecloth Italian restaurants. Like all great Italian dishes, Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta excels at being simple and sophisticated at the same time.
Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta offers mega crowd appeal. You know that friend who is adored everywhere she goes, manages to score free drinks from the bartender, and is magically upgraded to first class on overbooked flights? Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta is that friend. You can’t help but love it.
Whether you serve it to your picky kids or discerning boss, Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta will be met with clean plates and requests for seconds. Its wide appeal stems from a masterful combination of comforting, universally-adored ingredients—bacon, juicy chicken, gooey cheese, and a splash of cream—with light, wholesome ones that balance the dish and bring it to life: spring peas, Italian herbs, and DeLallo whole wheat pasta.
Although I heartily support a little indulgence here and there, for me, a critical aspect of enjoying a healthy diet is to make simple swaps that increase the nutritional value of a recipe, without compromising its flavor.
One of the easiest changes you can make to instantly improve your diet is to use whole wheat pasta in place of white. It’s higher in fiber, and if you choose the right brand, not even your fussiest eaters will notice the substitution.
In my quest to convert all those around me to eating more whole grains, I’ve tasted every brand of whole grain pasta I could find, and DeLallo is by far the best. Not even my Italian mother-in-law (who previously regarded whole wheat pasta as the culinary equivalent of cardboard) could detect the difference when I served her Mozzarella Meatball Casserole made with DeLallo’s Organic Whole Wheat Rigatoni. She flat out didn’t believe that I’d used whole wheat pasta, until I showed her the package.
DeLallo offers a wide range of fun whole wheat pasta shapes. You’ll spy the shells in my Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese, the farfalle (bowties) in my Sun Dried Tomato Pasta, and even more in the pasta section of my recipe index. I picked the Organic Whole Wheat Orecchiette for today’s Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta. I adore the way the peas and bits of bacon nestle into each of these “little ears” and how the creamy sauce clings to the pasta’s lightly ridged exterior. Every forkful guarantees tasty morsels.
I don’t often beg readers to make a specific recipe—I truly love them all, so doing so feels a little like playing favorites—but this Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta with Peas is an exception.
I emphatically implore, beseech, and yes, beg, you to give this pasta recipe a go. Whether you need a fast supper for tonight or a winning meal to serve friends over the weekend, you can rely on Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta to be a trusted partner in delectable dinner crime.
Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta with Peas
- 8 ounces DeLallo Organic Whole Wheat Orecchiette
- 4 strips thick cut bacon — cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, — cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning — or heaping 1/4 teaspoon each dried basil, dried oregano, and dried rosemary or thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt — plus additional for cooking the pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 1/4 cups half and half
- 1 cup freshly grated part skim Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese — plus additional for serving
- 1 1/2 cups peas — fresh or frozen and thawed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley — plus additional for serving
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pan with high sides or a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the bacon to a plate and with a paper towel and lightly pat dry. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease from the pan and return to heat.
Increase the heat to medium high, add the chicken pieces, then sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Sauté the chicken until cooked through, about 6 minutes, then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon, then return the pan to the heat.
Add the half and half to the pan and bring it to a gentle boil over medium high, stirring often. Watch the pan carefully. As soon as the half and half barely begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and add the Mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Cook and stir the sauce until it thickens and the cheese melts, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the pasta, bacon, chicken, peas, and parsley. Cook 30 additional seconds to warm through. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. Enjoy warm, topped with additional Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 4)) — Calories: 654, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 144mg, Sodium: 724mg, Carbohydrates: 54g, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 8g, Protein: 50g
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