Butter Together: Tuscan chicken pasta? More like 'Tucson' chicken pasta


Amelia Plair

Amelia Plair



Amelia Plair



I got home from work last Friday night, and I really, really, really did not want to cook. At all. Do you feel me, ladies and gentlemen? By the end of a full week of teaching, the last thing I want to do is figure out something to feed my family.


I mean, I love them and all, but they expect to eat three times a day. Can you believe that? I just think it's a little selfish, is all. Why can they not be more like puppies? Or fish? Two meals a week seems much more reasonable.


But alas. My family members are human, not fish, and so I had to figure something out. I knew I had boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the fridge, so I began casting about for a hands-off recipe to use them in so I could change into my pajamas and fuzzy socks while supper cooked.



This recipe is one I'd been meaning to try for ages, but it calls for sun-dried tomatoes and fresh baby spinach. I never have sun-dried tomatoes on hand and only rarely have fresh spinach. We are really more of a canned tomato and frozen spinach sort of family, if you want to know the truth.


And so I followed in the footsteps of Christina -- my inimitable mother -- and millions of mamas who came before her: I winged it.


I subbed diced tomatoes for sun-dried and omitted the spinach entirely. I used up the bag of pasta I had and the whole brick of cream cheese instead of just 6 ounces ... because really, what am I going to do with two piddling ounces of leftover cream cheese?


I grated the Parmesan until it was so thin I became afraid my knuckles would scrape the grater, and that amount totaled more than the amount called for in the original. I never keep chicken broth on hand, and so I used some water and a generous tablespoon of Better than Bullion.


I sauteed the chicken breast, dumped in the other ingredients, and scurried off to my room to change. And you know what? It turned out pretty tasty, even if Zack does insist on calling it "Tucson" chicken pasta because it's so far from the original.


Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at [email protected]






2 very large (about 4 pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (butterflied to make 4 thinner breasts)


1 tablespoon cooking oil


2 teaspoons paprika


Salt and pepper


2 tablespoons butter


1 medium yellow onion, chopped


1 teaspoon dried basil


1 teaspoon garlic powder


4 1/2 cups chicken broth or equal parts chicken bouillon paste plus water


1 cup milk


16 ounces penne pasta


8 ounces cream cheese


1 1/2-2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (do not substitute the stuff in the can)


1 can diced tomatoes, drained



  • Press saute button on Instant Pot. While pot heats, slice chicken breasts horizontally to create four thinner breasts. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika. When pot is hot, add a drizzle of oil.


  • Add seasoned chicken breasts and cook on each side about 2 minutes, until browned but not cooked through. Remove breasts to a plate. Add butter and onion to the pot; cook onions about 2 minutes.


  • Add chicken broth (or water and bullion) to the pot and scrape to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add seasonings, milk, and pasta to the pot. Place breasts on top of submerged pasta. Close Instant Pot lid and set to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. When timer beeps, release the pressure and remove the lid.


  • Place chicken on a plate and tent foil over top. Add Parmesan, cubed cream cheese, and drained tomatoes to the pot. Stir occasionally until cheeses melt. Slice chicken into bite-sized pieces and return it to pot. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Sauce will be thin but will thicken upon standing. Top each portion with extra Parmesan if desired.


    (Source: Adapted -- a lot -- from tastesbetterfromscratch.com)




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