Admittedly, I’ve never actually ordered or eaten the Tuscan Garlic Chicken at Olive Garden but this knock-off recipe certainly made me think that if I could make something this delicious at home, there isn’t any reason to pay an arm and a leg for it at the ol’ O and G.
A lightly breaded chicken breast is nestled on a bed of pasta and is adorned with a creamy, flavorful sauce decked out with spinach and red bell pepper. Seriously tasty. What I love about this recipe is that the chicken is lightly browned in a skillet with a smidge of olive oil and then finishes baking in the oven. Calorie cut – check! Also, the original recipe calls for a whopping two cups of cream and while I do love me some heavy cream, I tried subbing out some of the cream with a combination of lowfat milk, a touch of heavy cream and a bit of cornstarch. Worked wonders. Calorie cut – check again! I’d insert a big old “Go Me!” here except for the fact that this meal still is far from calorie free. Take it for what it is and relish in the few calories that did get nixed, right?
If you have a craving for tender chicken, hearty pasta and an unbelievably tasty creamy Parmesan sauce, this is the meal for you, baby.
Note: if the chicken breasts you are using are overly thick, you can butterfly them, cutting all the way through so you end up with two thinner cuts of chicken breast. Second note: I would say this recipe is right on the edge of just having enough sauce but not an overabundance, so if you like things on the saucier end of the spectrum, feel free to double that part of the recipe.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips or chopped
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 6 ounces fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup lowfat milk
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound fettuccine
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a shallow pie plate or similar dish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Dip each chicken piece in the flour mixture until both sides are well coated.
- In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until the oil is hot and shimmering. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, cooking them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are golden and browned but not cooked all the way through (they’ll finish up in the oven). Don’t scoot the chicken around once you lay it in the hot oil! Let the oil work it’s magic to sear the crust on the chicken. If you get all antsy and try flipping too early and/or moving the chicken around the pan, the breading is lightly to fall off. Gently remove the chicken to a foil-lined, lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside and tent with foil until ready to use.
- While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water to a boil and add the noodles, cooking until al dente. Also, wipe out the skillet with a couple paper towels and return it to medium heat, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bell pepper, sauteing for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in one tablespoon flour and stir constantly while cooking for another minute. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. In a small liquid measure, whisk together the cornstarch and cream. Add the spinach, milk and cream mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with half of the cheese sauce. Place some of the coated pasta on each plate. Top with a breaded chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.
Recipe Source: adapted from More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes