Broccoli Rabe Chicken Pasta

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.

Thank you to Andy Boy for sponsoring this post.

photo of a skillet of broccoli rabe 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 specialness and a sense of anticipation. With spring, that means warmer days and spring produce and new inspiration in the kitchen.

But I’m not quite ready to let go of winter comfort, so this broccoli rabe pasta has a little winter with a little spring for the perfect seasonal transitional dinner.

Photo of a bunch of Andy Boy broccoli rabe with a bulb of fennel in the background

How to Make It

This pasta is loaded with flavor with fresh broccoli rabe, fennel, and bacon. The fennel and bacon provide the base for the creamy sauce, and the broccoli rabe and chicken make it filling and hearty. It’s a cozy dinner.

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Broccoli Rabe Chicken Pasta

photo of a skillet of broccoli rabe chicken pasta

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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.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • 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


  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and set it aside. Rinse the pot.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories: 563
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Fat: 29.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 45g
  • Fiber: 6.5g
  • Protein: 30.3g

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

Photo collage of ingredients for the recipe

Recipe Tips

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.

Photo collage showing the boiled broccoli rabe and the broccoli rabe being sauted in a skillet

Blanching the broccoli rabe first is an important step. It only takes about five minutes, and it does three things: It precooks it so it’s nice and tender when you serve the pasta, it tames the bitter flavor, and it helps to preserve its vibrant green color.

I like bow tie pasta (aka farfalle), but any short pasta shape will work, like penne, cavatappi, gemelli, small shells, or rotini.

Garnish it with some chopped fennel fronds and scoop into bowls for serving. Altogether, it’s pure comfort with pops of springtime freshness.

overhead photo of a bowl of broccoli rabe chicken pasta with a bunch of fresh broccoli rabe

Happy early spring,

More Dinner Ideas with Lots of Veggies

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