Um, wow, this pasta is amazing. I guess you can't really go wrong with a cup of cream and a cup of cheese, but still - I was really impressed at how fantastic it ended up coming out! I'm sure this would taste even better if you used fresh basil as the recipe calls for, but we discovered our basil had gone moldy when we got home, and dried actually turned out to be a perfectly good substitute in this case. The sun dried tomatoes in the sauce add a wonderful deep tomato-y flavor, and I think we all know that I'm totally addicted to roasted red peppers - they both go really well together in this pasta dish. The chicken adds some extra protein which makes this feel more like a full meal - make sure to get it nicely browned to add good flavor, and to cut the pieces large enough so they don't get dried out (they should be on the large size of bite-sized...maybe two-bite sized). We served the pasta with roasted asparagus - I'd recommend any lighter vegetable side dish since the pasta is so rich. One important note, though - while the leftovers were perfectly edible, they weren't nearly as tasty as the fresh dish, so aim to make an amount that can be consumed in one meal.
Thanks to my friend Kristi for the recipe recommendation and the suggestion to include chicken!
Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce and Chicken (adapted from Epicurious)
1 T canola oil, more as needed
1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1 pound dried pasta
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup whipping cream
1 7- to 9-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and when it's hot add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper and saute until nicely browned and cooked through. Scoop onto a plate and reserve for later.
3. When the water begins to boil, salt it and add the pasta. Cook until just shy of al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the rest.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Add a bit more oil to the pan if needed and then add the garlic. Saute for a minute or so until softened, and then add the sun-dried tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season with pepper and a little salt. Saute for 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant. Add the cream and roasted red peppers, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a couple of minutes, and then lower heat until the pasta is ready.
5. Return the pasta to the pot, and add the chicken and the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is warmed through and the pasta is al dente, adding some of the reserved pasta water as needed to create a creamy consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.