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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chicken & Linguine with Spinach-Parmesan Sauce

Getting a healthy dinner on the table in a hurry is always a challenge, and some nights it's nearly impossible.  But this meal is sure to please everyone in your family and you can have it cooked and ready to serve in less than 30 minutes.

For this recipe we started with boneless and skinless chicken breasts that are thinly sliced, which will allow them to cook very quickly.  Next we made a creamy sauce of spinach and Parmesan cheese that reminds me of a rich, old-fashioned creamed spinach.  And for some extra color and nutrients, we added strips of sweet red bell pepper.  A dash of lemon juice adds just a touch of citrus to bring all of those flavors together.

For this dish we used whole wheat linguine and my kids said they actually like it better than the regular pasta.  With lots of fiber and protein, this is delicious pasta.

3/4 cup  Flour
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Dried Basil
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
3  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 1-3/4 lbs)
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
3 TB  Olive Oil, divided
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1  Medium Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
8 oz  Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained (or use fresh, cleaned spinach)
3 TB  Flour
1/2 cup  Chicken Broth
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream  or  Half and Half
1  cup  Milk  (we used 1%)
1/2  cup  Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1  13.25 oz Box  Linguine (or pasta of your choice)
Extra Grated Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Slice each of the 3 chicken breasts horizontally, so you have 6 thin fillets.  By cutting the chicken this way the meat will cook very quickly and allow the meat to be nice and juicy inside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  In a shallow dish combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and garlic powder.  Stir mixture to combine. 

Heat a large pot of water and cook the linguine according to package directions until al dente, about 8-9 minutes.  While the water is heating you can get the chicken started.

In a large skillet, heat 2 TB of olive oil until hot, over medium-high heat.  Coat each of the chicken fillets in the flour mixture, place the chicken in the pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  When chicken is nearly finished cooking, drizzle with the juice of 1/2 of a lemon, and let sizzle for 1 minute.  Remove the cooked chicken to a baking dish, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven until the pasta and sauce are ready.

Using the same skillet the chicken was cooked in, heat 1 TB olive oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and red pepper to the pan and saute for about 4 minutes until veggies are softened, then add the spinach to the pan and saute for 2 minutes longer.  Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir to evenly coat.  Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken broth, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes, then add the cream (or half and half), milk and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to the pan and stir.  Reduce heat to medium-low until ready to serve.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and place a portion of pasta on each plate, top with a spoon of sauce, then top with a sliced chicken fillet and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!!

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