Chicken Pasta with Lemon Basil Cream Sauce (Pollo Limone)

Preparation time: TBD Cooking time: TBD Easy - for beginners Serves: 4


Pollo Limone Rustica : Tender grilled chicken and penne pasta sauteed in a lemon basil sauce with fresh spinach. Finished with fresh lemon zest.


  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • salt and pepper to season chicken
  • 2/3 c. flour (for dredging)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 c. chicken broth (good quality, low sodium)
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced (you should have about 1/2 c. lemon juice)
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced (optional, we skipped this)
  • 1/2 c. half & half
  • 1 c. fresh chopped basil
  • 2 handful fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 lb whole wheat penne pasta


Heat the 1/4 c. olive oil in a large sauté pan. Season the chicken and dredge in flour. When oil is hot (but before it starts smoking), brown chicken for a few minutes on each side. While chicken are browning, prepare onions and garlic.

Remove chicken to a plate and sauté onions, garlic, pinch of red pepper flakes and 1/2 t. salt until tender, about 3-4 minutes. While onions are cooking, zest and juice lemons. Set zest aside. Add the lemon juice and broth and stir to combine. Cook chicken at a light simmer, covered, for 10-20 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta according to package instructions. Remove chicken, uncover, and simmer lightly an additional 15 minutes. The flour from the chicken should slightly thicken the sauce.

Add cream, chopped basil, spinach, and red peppers to sauce whisking to incorporate. Taste for seasoning and add water, cream, or broth as necessary.

Cut chicken into small pieces and return to pan. Add cooked pasta, turning to coat in sauce. (You will likely not use the entire 1 lb of pasta.) If the sauce had thickened too much, add some pasta water. Toss in lemon zest and fresh basil, and serve.

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