To make an easy chicken and penne pasta dish, add boiled frozen broccoli, sautéed mushrooms and garlic, cubed cream cheese and grated Parmesan cheese to sautéed chicken breasts and whole wheat penne. For a lighter variation, omit the cheese and add extra sautéed vegetables such as green bell peppers, onions and diced tomatoes.
To make creamy chicken and broccoli penne, boil 8 ounces whole wheat penne and 12 ounces of frozen broccoli according to the pasta package directions. Save 2 cups of the pasta water, drain, and then return the noodles and broccoli to the pasta pot. Season 2 chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and cook in 2 tablespoons of canola oil until both sides are golden brown with an internal temperature between 155 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the chicken warm on a baking sheet in an oven set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes, add 3 garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds, then add 8 ounces of cubed cream cheese, and stir until melted. Whisk in 1 cup of the pasta water, followed by the Parmesan, then add to the noodles and broccoli, tossing to coat, adding more of the water if the sauce is not creamy enough.
A lighter variation omits the cheese and salt, and adds vegetables. Sauté 1 diced onion and 1 diced green bell pepper in tablespoon of olive oil for five minutes. Add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms and cook until brown, then add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of water, 14 1/2 ounces of tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add to the chicken and penne and serve.