Never have I ever received as many requests for a recipe as I have for this Xander's Babar Pasta inspired Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta! And I have to tell you guys: this is probably in the top 3 savory dishes I have ever made.
The pasta is creamy and cheesy while still being incredibly fresh and summery, with the addition of sundried tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, and basil taking it to the next level. It is also quite simple to make, and comes together in under an hour! If you try one simple savory recipe of mine... maybe it should be this one. I can't think of a single person who won't love it.
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS RECIPE
A month or so ago, I visited Karachi, Pakistan for the first time, and went to the popular cafe, Xander's. Unsure what to order, I asked the manager what he recommended, and he told me to try their popular "Babar pasta". I was confused by the name, but turns out the pasta is simply named after someone who inspired the recipe. The description was that of a Tuscan chicken pasta with sundried tomatoes, which sounded really good. So I went for it.
Lo and behold, the pasta arrived, and it did not disappoint. It was probably the best meal I had in Karachi. It was creamy, well seasoned, fresh, and just incredibly comforting.
I shared a story on Instagram, and immediately, with the quick onslaught of DMs, realized that the Babar pasta has nothing short of a cult following. So it was a no brainer - I had to recreate the recipe. I took note of the ingredients and flavor profile of the pasta as I had it, and got to work in my kitchen as soon as I returned to the States.
I am SO pleased with how my recipe turned out! If my memory serves me right, I think it tastes just like the Babar pasta, and is just as delicious, if not better. But, if we are being highly nitpicky, there are three main differences:
- I added a small amount of chopped spinach, whereas I don't believe Babar pasta has any. You can easily omit the spinach, but I think it adds beautiful color and flavor
- I used linguini pasta instead of spaghetti. You are welcome to use spaghetti, but I just prefer linguini and think it works better
- The Babar pasta is garnished with cilantro, but I used basil leaves, which I think complement the Italian flavor profile of the pasta more
SO yeah - now let's get into the recipe!
Here are the ingredients you will need for this Tuscan chicken pasta (exact quantities are in the recipe card below):
- Boneless chicken tenders or breast
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning - you can also sub oregano or dried basil
- Olive oil
- Linguini or spaghetti - the original recipe uses spaghetti, but I prefer linguini. Really, you can use any kind of pasta you like to eat!
- Unsalted butter - if you use salted, you can adjust the amount of added salt as needed
- Fresh garlic, chopped
- Sundried tomato - this usually comes in jars, and you want to add the oil from the jar as well as it contains a lot of flavor. I used crushed sundried tomatoes, but if you have a jar of whole sundried tomatoes, you can chop them up roughly yourself
- Cherry tomatoes
- Chili flakes
- Parmesan cheese
- Spinach - this is optional, but I think it really elevates the pasta
- Fresh basil leaves
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY TUSCAN CHICKEN PASTA
Now let's go through the process step by step. Here's a quick video where you can see everything in action:
1. Boil the pasta
Firstly, boil the pasta you're using according to the instructions on the package until it is al dente (meaning it still has a bite to it).
Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and run it under cold water so it doesn't stick together.
2. Prepare the chicken
Next, massage the chicken with the seasonings, and pan fry it in a heavy-bottomed skillet until it is cooked through and nicely seared on both sides. I cook the chicken tenders for ~3-4 minutes per side on high heat, but the timing will depend on how thick your chicken is.
I like to use my Caraway Sauté pan, as I find it is the perfect size for this pasta and love how it is non-stick and non-toxic! Caraway is currently offering 10% sitewide - simply follow this link, and you don't need a discount code. (affiliate link)
Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice it into thin, long strips, and set aside.
Tip: Cut the chicken against its grain, as that will make it much easier to break it into smaller pieces using a fork when eating the pasta!
3. Make the creamy Tuscan pasta sauce
In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, melt the butter and sauté the garlic on medium heat until it is fragrant. Add the sundried tomato and freshly chopped cherry tomatoes, and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes soften. Then add the seasonings and mix in.
Next, add the milk and cream, and stir on medium-low heat until the sauce starts to become cohesive and thicken up. At this point, add the parmesan cheese and reserved pasta water, and cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. It should be not be liquid, but also not too thick, as it will thicken up more as the pasta cools down.
Fold in the chopped spinach and basil leaves, and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.
4. Assemble and serve
Add the sliced chicken to the sauce and stir. Then, mix in the boiled pasta, taste and adjust seasoning as needed, and you are ready to serve!
I like to garnish the pasta with chopped basil leaves, parmesan cheese, and more sundried and cherry tomatoes.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you can use any kind of pasta that you like as long as you cook it according to the instructions on its package. I like linguini, spaghetti, and penne for this recipe.
Yes, you can skip the chicken and this pasta will still taste good! You can also add mushroom if you like.
If you don't have sundried tomatoes, you can skip them and add more chopped cherry tomatoes instead. However, the beautiful rustic flavor or this pasta does rely on sundried tomatoes, so I highly recommend getting your hands on them if possible!
I recommend making this pasta fresh before serving for best results. Pasta can become a bit mushy, and the sauce becomes a bit too thick, once it is refrigerated.
If you enjoyed this recipe, make sure to leave a rating and review before. Also check out my popular savory recipes: