This creamy chicken, mushroom and spinach pasta is great for a casual weeknight dinner for the family or a fancy dinner for friends. Real cream, a handful of Parmesan cheese, colourful veggies and well seasoned chicken make this dish a hit every time. Even better, it’s quick and easy to prepare.
If you’ve been following me, you know I’m a big fan of cooking with seasonal, local foods with as little waste as possible. This dish is a perfect example of how delicious cooking like this can be. The chicken, mushrooms, veggies, herbs, cream and pasta can all be sourced locally. You can use fresh chicken or leftover chicken. You can add pretty much whatever veggies you have on hand and it’s perfect for using up any dark leafy greens tucked away in your fridge. Delicious no matter what you choose.
Not only am I excited to share this recipe with you, but thanks to a partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers, I was happy to demonstrate it on a Facebook Live on Earth Day 2021. You can watch Gina Sunderland, RD and Food & Consumer Relations Specialist with Manitoba Chicken Producers and me as we share recipes and tons of ideas for reducing food waste. Gina’s recipe is for Warm Grilled Chicken Spinach and Bean Salad.
Recipe for Creamy, Mushroom and Spinach Pasta
Creamy Chicken and Spinach and Mushrooms
- 454g your favourite long or short pasta
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 chicken breasts, cut in cubes
- 1/2 Tbsp Montreal steak spice
- 1 Tbsp butter or canola oil
- 125 g mushrooms, sliced (6-8)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup diced colourful sweet pepper
- 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream (35% MF)
- 3 cups dark leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale), coarsely chopped (4 oz)
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch (optional)
- salt & pepper, to taste
- hot pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil cut into thin ribbons (optional)
- Bring 4-5 litres of salted water to boil. Add pasta. Stir occasionally and cook until el dente, 11-13 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of liquid.
- While pasta is cooking, in large pan, heat canola oil on medium high heat.
- Season chicken well with Montreal steak spice then add to pan and cook until no pink remains. Remove from pan.
- Add 1 Tbsp butter or canola oil.
- Add mushrooms and sauté until golden.
- Add garlic and red peppers as mushrooms are finishing, cook 1 minute.
- Deglaze pan with white wine or chicken stock.
- Add cream and Italian seasoning. Bring just to boiling point, reduce heat and simmer 5 min.
- Mix in Parmesan cheese and leafy greens. Simmer and stir until greens wilt.
- For a thicker sauce, in small bowl, gradually mix 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch with 1 Tbsp cold water and add in reserved pasta water. Add to pan, stir and heat until thickened.
- Add cooked chicken and pasta to pan, stir well and heat through, about 3 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Top with hot pepper flakes, extra Parmesan and basil as desired.
- Use leftover cooked chicken and save a step. Simply cut to desired size and add at the very end and just heat through.
- Use 150 g/5 oz frozen spinach (half a pack) of frozen spinach or kale instead of fresh greens. Thaw and drain well.
- Replace red peppers with sundried tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes added at the very end.
- Omit mushrooms.
Tips for Creamy, Mushroom and Spinach Pasta
In my recipe above, I use two chicken breasts cut into cubes to serve four people. I find when you cube chicken and toss it into a dish like this with other ingredients, there’s plenty for everyone. Of course, you can always add more chicken if you’d like. You could also use four or five chicken thighs cut into cubes. Or, if you have leftover cooked chicken, you can use that and save a step, simply add cooked chicken at the end to heat through.
If you’re using two chicken breasts, you may have extra raw chicken breasts on your hand. I like to freeze my extra chicken in ready to use portion sizes. I stack two or three breasts on top of each other and wrap well in either plastic wrap or parchment paper. Then I place that into a freezer bag, label it and freeze it. I try to rotate through my frozen chicken every 3 months so the risk of ice crystals and freezer burn are minimized.
You can also freeze chicken breasts in a marinade so the chicken marinates a little as it freezes and a little more as it thaws. Check out this post by Manitoba Chicken Producers for more practical, time saving tips when using chicken.
Mushrooms & Red Peppers
My motto is you can never go wrong with a few extra veggies. The mushrooms and red peppers in this dish add great colour, flavour and texture – but if you’re not a fan it’s okay to leave them out. There’s plenty of flavour in this recipe even without the extras.
Dark Leafy Greens
This is a great recipe for using up any dark leafy greens that may be lurking in your fridge. Dark greens like spinach, swiss chard, bok choy, kale, arugula, mizuna, beet greens and collard greens all work wonderfully in hot dishes. That’s why when I buy bagged or boxed lettuce mix, I look for ones that contain these greens. I know I’ll get a tasty salad and that I can easily use any leftovers in pasta, soup, breads, stews or curries. And, compared to iceberg, leaf or even romaine lettuce I’m getting extra nutrients from those dark leafy greens.
This recipe’s rich creaminess comes from using real cream. You’ll want to use heavy cream, also called whipping cream with 35% MF (milk fat). Super decadent and oh so delicious! While I have not tried this recipe with it, you could probably use half and half, which has about 10% MF. However, I do not recommend anything less than that in this recipe. The fat in the cream is a necessary stabilizer, without it, your sauce will curdle and look grainy if used according to the instructions in this recipe.
Also note, when you reheat a cream based sauce like this, do so gently with low heat . Extreme heat will cause the cream to melt and turn buttery – delicious, but no longer creamy.
What to Serve with Creamy Chicken Pasta?
I recently facilitated a Zoom cooking event and this recipe was part of our four course meal. We made it all in 2 hours – with a bit of wine and a lot of laughter involved! The creamy chicken pasta got rave reviews as did the appetizer, salad and dessert we made to go with it. Warning, this is a big dinner! Here’s what we made:
- Feta Flatbreads for appetizers
- Fresh Citrus Salad with orange honey vinaigrette
- Strawberry sauce and ice cream for dessert
Are you ready to try this delicious pasta dish? When you do let me know what you think and if you’re on social media, please take a photo and tag #getgettys and @ManitobaChicken so we can see it and like it!
This recipe was written in paid partnership with the Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, opinions are my own and a sincere reflection of life in my home.
Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer sharing tips and recipes to build confidence and teach skills on how to use whole seasonal foods. She is the author of several recipe books, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.