This pasta is perfectly creamy and it has just the right amount added flavor from the parmesan, Neufchatel cheese and the garlic.
Ready in: 35minutes
1lbboneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded with mallet to even thickness
1/4tspeach salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sauce
1lbasparagus, trimmed of ends, remaining diced into 2-inch pieces and steamed
1 3/4cupmilk(I used 1%)
1/4cupcream or half and half
3ozNeufchatel cheese(aka light cream cheese), diced into pieces
1/3cupfinely shredded parmesan cheese
4 - 5slicesbacon, cooked and crumbled into small pieces (optional)
In a small bowl, stir together basil, oregano, thyme and 1/4 salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the herb mixture evenly over tops of chicken. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Once hot, add chicken to skillet, herbed side down, then add remaining herb mixture to tops of chicken.
Cook chicken until fully cooked through, about 8 - 12 minutes, occasionally rotating chicken (time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts. If chicken is browning too quickly reduce heat to medium low as needed). Transfer cooked chicken to a plate, let rest 5 minutes then dice into pieces.
Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions listed on package, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.
In a clean skillet (large and deep), melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer, stirring constantly.
While whisking, slowly pour in milk then cream (whisk vigorously to break up clumps). Season with salt and pepper to taste (a fair amount of each) and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
Once it reaches a boil and thickens, reduce heat to medium-low, add Neufchatel and parmesan cheese and cook, stirring frequently, until cheeses have melted.
Toss in cooked pasta, then add cooked chicken, steamed asparagus and bacon and toss to evenly coat. Add in reserved pasta water as desired (it will thicken as it rests and the pasta will absorb the liquids, so add up to 1/2 cup as needed). Serve immediately.
You could also use peas or spinach in this recipe.