This chicken Florentine pasta recipe is so rich and creamy and perfect for a night when comfort food is a must!
Admittedly, I am more of a red sauce kind of girl as creamy sauces tend to be a bit too rich for me. This chicken Florentine pasta is definitely on the creamy side. Though tomatoes, lemon, and spinach helps with the decadence.
Traditionally, chicken Florentine pasta is a dish prepared à la Florentine or in the style of Florence, Italy. This means it has spinach and a mornay sauce, which is béchamel prepared with grated cheese. In this variation, I skip the cheese but keep the spinach. I also added some tomatoes for a bit of lightly sweet acidity to help cut the creaminess. Most Florentine sauces will be white with flecks of green from the spinach. BUT! I’ve seen variations with tomato so I decided to throw caution to the wind in this one and went for a gorgeous pink sauce.
How to make this chicken Florentine pasta:
This recipe does have a lot of steps, but the finished dish is totally worth the wait.
First, prepare the chicken. Start by taking boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cutting them in half lengthwise. You can pound them thin if you like, but I didn’t bother. Dredge them in a mixture of flour, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, paprika, and cayenne powder. Next, fry them for about 5 minutes per side. They do not need to be cooked through!
Remove them from the pot and begin the sauce. Sauté onions in the same pot used for the chicken and then add cherry tomatoes. Next add butter and minced garlic, dry thyme, and crushed red pepper. From there, simply add flour and whisk in the water or stock until completely incorporated and smooth.
Finish the sauce with cream and spinach and add the chicken on top and bake it until the chicken reaches 165ºF.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the sauce and toss the sauce with cooked pasta.
Serve up the pasta with the chicken on top and fresh parsley or basil if you prefer.
Looking for more comfort food recipes? Check my archives!
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Chicken Florentine Pasta Recipe
- 3 chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil plus more if needed
- 1 yellow onion peeled and thinly sliced into half-moons
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 cups water or chicken stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- ½ lemon juiced plus additional lemon wedges for garnish
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley minced or use fresh basil if you prefer
- 16 ounces penne pasta
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
Prepare the chicken:
- Pat the chicken dry and set aside.
- In a shallow bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, salt, pepper, dry thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne powder, and stir. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess.
- Add the oil to a wide pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter is frothy, add the chicken. Cook the chicken in batches if needed to avoid overcrowding the pan. Fry the chicken for 5 minutes per side and transfer to a plate. They do not need to be cooked through!
Prepare the sauce:
- Add more oil, if needed, to the same wide pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the add cherry tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the cherry tomatoes begin to blister–about 5 minutes later–add two more tablespoons of butter. Once the butter is frothy, add the minced garlic, dry thyme, and crushed red pepper.
- Next, stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook it into the tomatoes for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in half of the water or stock. Add the remaining water or stock and whisk until completely smooth. Pour in the heavy cream and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and let it bubble over the stovetop for 5 minutes. Taste and season the sauce to your preferences. Turn off the heat.
Bake the chicken:
- Stir the spinach into the sauce. Place the chicken on top and bake it for 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
Finish the pasta:
- Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the cooked chicken to a plate. Add the lemon juice and cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. If needed, add the pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce. Finally, stir in the minced parsley or basil—taste and season once more to your preferences.
- Divide the pasta between shallow bowls and place a chicken breast on each dish. Garnish with more parsley or basil if you like, and serve with lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy!