You can enjoy a restaurant-quality meal with this juicy, seared chicken simmered in an onion, garlic and sundried tomato cream sauce with spinach and parmesan. And, thanks to store-bought Italian seasoning and a few other easy-to-find ingredients, you can throw together this simple yet divine dinner in under 30 minutes.
Before we put the skillet to flame, let’s discuss the ingredients and a few helpful tips.
Chicken. My recipe for creamy Tuscan chicken is made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you can also use chicken thighs or chicken tenders. Note that chicken tenders will cook noticeably quicker. Regardless of what cut you use, make sure your chicken reaches 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning is an herb blend of basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Products vary, and some have marjoram, sage and savory, too, but that’s the gist. Choose your favorite brand or one that’s on sale. If you’d rather not purchase a new spice blend and have a well-stocked spice rack, create your own Italian seasoning by blending ½ teaspoon each of oregano, thyme, basil and rosemary.
Onion. Variety isn’t critical here, so feel free to use white, yellow, red or even shallots.
Garlic. This Tuscan chicken is a garlicky dish and my recipe calls for four fresh cloves. You can add more or less, but I recommend fresh garlic over garlic powder or pre-minced garlic. But, if you’d rather use pre-minced garlic, use about 2 teaspoons, and if you’re using garlic powder, add 1 teaspoon.
Sun-dried tomatoes. I prefer oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes for this chicken. They’re tender, juicy and decidedly plump. If you have dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before draining and adding them to the sauce.
Spinach. This recipe calls for two packed cups of fresh baby spinach leaves, but you can easily double that amount if you’re a spinach fan. Truth is, two cups wilt down to almost nothing, so add as much as desired. If you prefer frozen spinach, thaw it completely and squeeze out all the water before adding it to the pan; you don’t want to dilute the cream sauce.
Heavy cream. This is a cream-based dish, so I highly encourage you to stick with full-fat heavy cream (also called whipping cream). If you want to substitute half and half, that’s fine, just keep your sauce at a low simmer to prevent curdling.
Parmesan cheese. Much of the flavor in this cream sauce comes from nutty, salty parmesan cheese. It’s for that reason I recommend using good-quality, freshly grated cheese (that includes the pre-grated parmesan cheese sold with the specialty cheeses in the grocery store, but not the shelf-stable "dust"). You don’t need to spend a fortune on imported cheese; domestic parmesan is equally fabulous. I used my “store brand” grated parmesan cheese.
Pick the right pan. When combining cream and acidic ingredients (like sun-dried tomatoes), use a non-reactive pan, such as a ceramic, enamel-coated, or stainless steel. Avoid cast iron, aluminum, or copper, which will react with the acidic ingredients and curdle the sauce.
Marry me chicken (or creamy Tuscan chicken)
You'll see this dish called creamy Tuscan chicken or marry me chicken. Whatever you call it, this recipe makes a decent amount of mouth-watering cream sauce, so be sure to serve it with something starchy so you don’t miss a drop. Great options include rice, polenta, mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower, couscous, quinoa, bulger or other grains or egg noodles. A warm crusty loaf of Italian bread would also be lovely. Store leftover chicken and sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.
Makes: 4 servings
4 (5- to 6-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
⅓ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 packed cups baby spinach leaves
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated
Season both sides of the chicken with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, non-reactive skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear until golden brown on both sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, until soft. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and cook for 1 minute more, until fragrant.
Add the spinach, and cook for 1 minute, just until the leaves just start to wilt.
Add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan with any accumulated juices from the plate. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and serve at once.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Of all the chicken recipes, this easy take on marry me chicken is top