Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables

This dish is a post-workout go-to for Cathal Armstrong, chef at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia: He preps the ingredients in advance so that when he gets home from the gym, he can quickly make the sauce while the pasta is boiling. Armstrong likes the pasta with asparagus, spinach and bell pepper but says any vegetables will do. Slideshow:  More Pasta Recipes  Recipe from Food & Wine Chefs' Easy Weeknight Dinners. 

Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables
Photo: © Fredrika Stjärne
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
35 mins


  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 pound asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch lengths

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti or penne

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Two 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups baby spinach

  • 1 cup chopped basil

  • Finely grated lemon zest, for serving


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk with the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of cheese.

  2. Fill another medium bowl with ice water. In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the asparagus until bright green and crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the ice bath to cool. Drain well. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook just until al dente; drain.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the chicken, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus, pasta and milk mixture and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and basil, season with salt and black pepper and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with lemon zest and freshly ground pepper. Pass extra cheese at the table.

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