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Skinny Chicken Parmesan Pasta

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Pasta

Cook time 36 minutes
Ready in 36 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings


  • 8 oz pasta whole-wheat or grain-free (i.e. brown rice) medium shells
  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken breast
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (plus extra for serving)
  • 3 packed cups baby spinach
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (4 oz) ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 tbsp whole-wheat panko bread crumbs


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan (or Dutch oven) over medium heat.
3. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is very soft and the garlic is fragrant. (Be careful not to burn the onion and garlic! If they start to brown, turn down the heat immediately.)
4. Add the ground chicken and salt and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat into small pieces with a spatula or until no longer pink.
5. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using).
6. Gently simmer the sauce for 15 minutes to thicken it slightly and allow the flavors to combine.
7. Stir in the basil and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, then add the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute.
8. Stir in the balsamic. Taste the sauce and season with a little extra salt and crushed red pepper if needed.
9. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions and drain. (If using gluten-free pasta be sure to rinse with cold water).
10. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
11. Transfer the pasta to a medium baking dish and top with the mozzarella. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan cheese.
12. Place the baking dish under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the breadcrumbs are nicely browned, about 1–2 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning)!
13. Garnish with extra basil if you like and serve warm.


1. The sauce can be made up to two days in advance.
2. I love shells in this dish, but any short pasta will work, such as penne or fusilli.
Recipe by Serena Wolf of