This spicy chicken pasta recipe is big on flavour, but easy on effort and time. Adaptable and ready in less than 30 minutes for a fuss free weeknight supper. Recipe includes hints and tips for adding an extra portion of vegetables to the dish.
I love big, strong, gutsy flavours. My cupboards are full of spices and condiments, and I am always adding a bit of this and that to add a hit of flavour to a dish. This no fuss chicken pasta recipe ticks all my big flavour boxes – garlic, pepper and paprika all mingle together to make a comforting pasta dish.
This easy supper is perfect for eating on the sofa with a glass of wine and your favourite box set after a busy day at work. I’ve even included a generous portion of leafy greens, so this will count towards your 5 a day! Hurrah!
Chicken with pasta?
You don’t find chicken pasta recipes in Italian cookbooks. In fact, most Italians would be horrified by the idea of serving chicken with pasta, perhaps because chicken is considered too light on flavour. Whatever the reason, it breaks the unwritten Italian food rules and the paring is generally regarded as mistake in Italy. My friend Luca wrote about why Italians won’t eat chicken with pasta.
I’ve spent weeks in Italy and adore the food, but I’m not Italian so the no chicken with pasta rule doesn’t apply to me. Plus chicken makes an easy after work supper, and this dish is delicious to non Italian taste buds!
Why you should always save your pasta water
Whenever you cook pasta get into the habit of saving a little of the water – it will help transform a good pasta dish into a great pasta dish. Add a splash of the water to the pasta sauce to give it a silky smooth texture, and to really help the sauce evenly coat the pasta. This secret makes a huge difference to all pasta dishes!
You can either use the water from the pasta when it is nearly cooked, or save it and freeze in an ice cube tray for your next pasta supper.
How to make Spicy Garlic Chicken Pasta
Step one – cut the chicken into 1.5cm / 1/2″ cubes. In a mixing bowl, mix the garlic granules, black pepper, and paprika.
Step two – add the chicken and mix well, so that the chicken pieces are all coated with the rub. The longer you can leave it for the better – ideally leave it in the fridge for 24 hours, but this is a quick after work dish so you can just mix and go!
Step three– boil a large saucepan of water, add salt and cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.
Step four– whilst your pasta is coking heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and fry the chicken. Turn frequently and cook until the chicken is starting to brown and has cooked all the way through.
Step five– when the pasta is nearly cooked, add the butter to the chicken along with 50 ml of the pasta water. Stir together, and let the liquid reduce to a sauce. Adding pasta water to sauces results in a deliciously smooth and unctuous sauce.
Step six– put your spinach in a sieve and drain the cooked spaghetti over it to wilt it, and shake well. Add the butter to the empty (and still hot pasta pan) and cover with the cooked spaghetti and spinach. Cook on a low heat for a few minutes, stirring the whole time, until the butter has melted and the spinach wilted.
Step seven – stir in the cooked chicken and feta, and stir in. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Our top tips for Spicy Garlic Chicken Pasta
- Prepare ahead – To get supper on the table quickly, prepare ahead by mixing up a large batch of chicken and spices, and freeze in individual portions. Take out of the freezer in the morning, and allow to defrost during the day in the fridge.
- Adding a little pasta water, to the sauce and then reducing it for a few minutes before mixing pasta and sauce makes a huge difference.
- Adjust the flavours to suit your taste. Like heat? Add some chilli powder for an extra kick.
- We used garlic granules for speed, but it you’re a garlic fan, crush a clove of fresh garlic and fry it in the oil for a minute or two before adding the chicken. Don’t let it burn, or the dish will taste bitter.
- Use gluten free pasta to make this gluten free
How to Add Extra Vegetables to Pasta Dishes
We are a huge fan of extra vegetables and try to add some to every meal.
It is really easy to add vegetables to every pasta dish you make.
- Delicate leafy greens – like spinach – plonk into the sieve and then drain the pasta over them – this is enough to wilt and cook them.
- Fibrous leafy greens – like spring greens, kale, cabbage and calvo nero – remove the thick stalks, shred and throw into the pasta saucepan for the last two minutes of cooking.
- Cauliflower and broccoli – cut into bite sized florets and cook with the pasta for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time
- Go low carb – use half the amount of pasta, and add a few cups of cauliflower.
- Beans and pulses – swap half the pasta for canned beans or chickpeas (gabanzo beans). Drain and rinse and boil with the pasta for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.
- Peas & Corn – Defrost and fry in with the chicken
- Squash and pumpkin – peel, cut into cubes and roast, then freeze in airtight boxes. Defrost (using the microwave if needed) then quickly heat by frying with the chicken.
Spicy Garlic Chicken Pasta
- 120 g skinless chicken breast (medium sized)
- ½ tsp garlic granules
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 150 g spaghetti (cook as per packet instructions)
- 50 g spinach (one large handful)
- 25 g butter (optional)
- 50 g feta (crumbled)
- Place the cut chicken pieces, garlic granules, ground black pepper and paprika into a bowl, mix well and cover and leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- Pour the olive oil, into a non-stick frying pan, and fry the chicken over a medium heat until starting to brown and cooked all the way though. Remove from the heat and start to cook the spaghetti.
- When the spaghetti is nearly cooked, add half the butter to the chicken along with 50ml of the pasta cooking water, reheat and bring to a simmer and allow to reduce to make a sauce.
- Once the spaghetti is cooked drain into a sieve, and shake well. Add the remainder of the butter, and the spinach to the pasta pan, then the cooked spaghetti. Cook over a low heat, stirring well until the butter is melted and the spinach is wilted.
- Stir in the chicken mixture and feta into the pasta.
- Serve immediately.
- This recipe is 18 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion
Update Notes: This recipe was originally posted in 2015, but was rewritten and republished with new photos, step by step instructions and hints & tips in February 2019.