Let this smooth cream cheese pasta transport you to Southern Italy with the rich flavours of sun-dried tomatoes and pancetta. It will take you just minutes to get there!
Add a side of our Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce and Burrata to make the most of your Mediterranean journey.
So many ingredients of this creamy pasta recipe evoke memories of family holidays in Southern Europe. Pasta, tomatoes, garlic, basil, Parmesan! Eating and discovering new foods is one of our favourite things to do.
Interestingly, sun-dried tomatoes are traditionally dried on the ceramic rooftops of homes. The dehydration process is what gives them their sweet intensity. So you don’t need much to pack a flavoursome punch.
However, there’s no need to dry your own! Sun-dried tomatoes are readily available in jars, or as a pesto, from most supermarkets. This is the ingredient that is going to elevate your usual chicken pasta recipe.
Cream Cheese Pasta Sauce
The secret to the simplicity of this recipe is the cream cheese. Rather than slaving over a cheese sauce made from scratch, make things easy on yourself and stir in a store-bought pack. No lumps, just smoothness and silkiness, guaranteed.
Any sauce-catching pasta will do, for example; penne, fusilli or macaroni. If you only have a long thin pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, just go for it.
Depending on your family’s diet, this creamy pasta recipe can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian. I most often include chicken as it’s an affordable source of protein, and a family favourite. But feel free to leave it out entirely.
I use chicken breast sliced into bite-sized chunks. This way the chicken can be distributed evenly throughout the pasta and you get a combination of pasta, sauce and chicken in every forkful.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Any pasta shape can be used in this recipe. I’ve used macaroni as I like the way it catches the sauce. Tubey shapes tend to work best for this, making every mouthful a creamy delight.
- Pancetta will make the dish all the more authentic as it also originates from Italy. If it’s unavailable to you, or you just prefer it, use bacon instead. Bacon will give the dish a smokiness. For a lighter dish, you can leave them both out.
- The same goes for chicken. It’s your dish, so it’s up to you!
- Sun-dried tomatoes are as important as cream cheese in this creamy sauce. They are sold in many forms, so just use what you can find.
- Finally, don’t drain off all the cooking water from the pasta! Reserve about a cupful to stir into your sauce.
Storage and Leftovers
We all cook too much pasta sometimes! The best way to store any leftover pasta and sauce is to cover with cling film and put in the fridge.
With or without chicken, make sure you’ve used it up within 2-3 days. To reheat, add a splash of water to loosen the sauce and cook covered in the oven, or on the hob over a medium heat.
Favourite Creamy Pasta Recipes to Try:
- 5 Minute Ravioli Sauce (for store bought ravioli)
- Easy Carbonara (the authentic version)
- Bake Penne alla Vodka with Meatballs
- Vegan Alfredo Pasta Sauce (dairy free)
Tomato Cream Cheese Pasta with Chicken and Pancetta
- 160g smoked pancetta or bacon
- 1 lbs chicken breasts skinless and boneless
- 130g/1/2 cup sun-dried tomato paste or finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4-5 basil leaves or ½ tsp dried basil
- 200g cream cheese full fat
- 1 lbs pasta
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp Parmesan grated
- Start cooking the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, cook the pancetta in a large pan until the fat has rendered, remove from the pan and set aside till need. To the same pan add the seasoned with salt chicken breast chunks and brown on both sides until golden and cooked all the way through, which should take 7-10 minutes depending on the size of your pieces.
- Lower the heat and bring the bacon back to the pan and add the sun-dried tomato paste, sliced basil leaves or dried basil and minced garlic, cook while stirring for a couple of minutes, then add a couple of ladelfuls of the pasta water directly from the pot, let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then stir in the cream cheese and let it melt over low heat.
- Drain the pasta once it’s cooked and reserve 1⁄2 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta directly to the pan, toss to coat and season with salt to taste. Add a splash of pasta water if the pasta is a bit dry. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Leave a Reply