This dish celebrates the crossroads of winter with fresh spring produce combined with comforting pasta. Bow tie pasta coated in a creamy sauce flavored with fresh fennel and bacon along with tender chicken and fresh broccoli rabe is a comforting dinner for early spring.
This post is sponsored by Andy Boy.
Broccoli Rabe Chicken Pasta
Spring slipped quietly through the door this year and it’s been a whole eight days since the official start of the season. I tend to mark the changing of seasons because each one brings its own special-ness and a sense of anticipation. With spring that means warmer days and spring produce and new inspiration in the kitchen.
But the changing of the seasons isn’t like a light switch that turns from cold wintry days to bright warm days with the flick of a wrist. This time of year the weather takes one step forward when you need just a light jacket, followed by two steps back requiring heavy sweaters. It’s the same in the kitchen – spring produce finds
Some Ingredients You’ll Need
- For the spring part of the dish, we start with some fresh broccoli rabe which is in season in early spring, although Andy Boy, with their different farm locations, can ship it year-round. It’s packed with good-for-you nutrients and for this recipe, you can use all of it – the stems, the leaves, and the florets.
- Fresh fennel, in season through the fall to late winter, is an anise-flavored veggie. For this recipe, I used it to create a smooth cream sauce after cooking it with some garlic and bacon. The whispy fronds are also delicious and I used them both in the sauce and as a garnish.
- While any short pasta shape will work well, I opted to use a cute little bow-tie-shaped pasta, also known as farfalle.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast is pan-seared and then sliced into bite-sized pieces.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe
- First, I like to drop the broccoli rabe in a pot of boiling water just long enough to cook it through so it’s tender which is around five minutes. This also helps tame it’s bitter flavor and helps preserve it’s
- From there, I pop it in the skillet and saute it for a few minutes. This helps remove the excess moisture and it also picks up the flavors from the ingredients that were cooked in the skillet before it.
How to Make Bacon Fennel Cream Sauce
- It starts with the chopped fennel, bacon, and garlic. Cook them all together until the fennel is tender. All of it is pureed until smooth and then stirred into a sauce made with cream, milk, butter, and some flour. The result is a silky-smooth sauce flavored with the sweet slightly licorice-flavored fennel and smoky bacon.
- You only need a pot to boil the pasta and broccoli rabe and a large skillet to cook the chicken and make the sauce. The pasta, chicken
andbroccoli rabe are tossed together with the bacon fennel sauce.
- Garnish it with some chopped fennel fronds and scoop into bowls for serving. Altogether, it’s pure comfort with pops of springtime freshness.
Happy early spring,
Visit Andy Boy to learn more about their wonderful produce and get more recipes!
More Chicken Pasta Recipes
Looking for more comforting chicken pasta recipes? Here are a few of my favorites that are perfect for this time of year…
Lemon Leek Pasta with Chicken | This lemon leek pasta with chicken for two is a light and flavorful dish. The light sauce is made with leek, butter, fresh lemon, and Parmesan cheese. Toss it with pasta and chicken and you get an easy-to-make dinner in just under 30 minutes.
Skillet Chicken Lasagna | Chicken Lasagna that cooks all in one pan – no fussy layers required!
Baked Chicken Parmesan Casserole | This baked chicken parmesan casserole for two is a low-prep dinner that takes all of ten minutes to get in the oven. All of it cooks in one baking dish! It has everything you love about a classic chicken parm – including a crispy breadcrumb and cheese topping – without all the extra work.Print
This dish celebrates the crossroads of winter and spring with fresh broccoli rabe and fennel. It starts with a velvety smooth bacon fennel cream sauce that’s tossed with pasta and chicken. The broccoli rabe is first blanched to tame its bitterness and then sautéed until it’s tender. Stirred into the creamy pasta it adds a pop of freshness and color making this a cozy dinner to enjoy in early spring.
- 8 ounces farfalle
- 4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups fennel, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, divided
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded into an even thickness and seasoned with salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- I bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and set it aside. Rinse the pot.
- Bring water to boil again in the same pot that you used for the pasta. Add the broccoli rabe and boil it for about five minutes or until the stems are crisp-tender Drain and set the broccoli rabe aside.
- Cook the bacon in a large 10-inch pan until it starts to render its fat but before it turns crispy. Add the fennel and garlic and stir to coat them in the bacon fat. Cover the pan and cook the fennel for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is tender. Add two tablespoons of the chopped and stir to combine. Leave enough bacon fat to coat the bottom of the pan and transfer the bacon and fennel to a blender or food processor. While the blender is running add up to a ½ cup of water to thin the puree. You want it very smooth. Set the puree aside.
- In the same skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook them on one side for five to six minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook it on the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165°F. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate.
- In the same skillet, sauté the boiled broccoli rabe for five minutes. You want to cook off the excess moisture that the broccoli absorbed when it was boiled. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a clean plate.
- In the same skillet, melt three tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the butter and stir to combine. Cook the flour and butter for a minute or so. Using a whisk, slowly add the milk and cream and whisk continuously to create a smooth sauce. Adjust the heat so that the sauce does not boil, but instead gently simmers. Cook the sauce for a few minutes or until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. While the sauce cooks, cut the chicken breasts and broccoli rabe into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the fennel puree to the sauce and stir to combine. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat it in the sauce. Add the chicken and broccoli rabe and stir to combine. Garnish with two tablespoons of chopped fennel fronds and serve.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 563
- Sugar: 6g
- Fat: 29.8g
- Carbohydrates: 45g
- Fiber: 6.5g
- Protein: 30.3g
Keywords: broccoli rabe recipe, chicken pasta recipe, pasta with cream sauce recipe