This creamy and cheesy Gluten Free Chicken and Spinach White Cheddar Pasta is a quick and easy weeknight meal and a great way to use up your leftover chicken.
It’s a real treat going to Costco. Besides watching Emry sample ALL of the food, it’s always nice being able to pick up a quick dinner.
I’m talking about those $4.99 rotisserie chickens that are flying off the shelves quicker than those chickens could fly when they were still alive.
Oh wait, chickens don’t fly. I should have remembered that from watching the movie Chicken Run as a kid. Kind of a creepy movie now that I’m reminiscing about it. Regardless…
…those chickens are a hot commodity at Costco!
I invited some friends over last minute for dinner after they had moved into a new house. As always, I was whipping up one of my random “never have tried before recipes in my head” for dinner. All of the sudden I panicked, “What if this meatloaf doesn’t work??? I can’t feed them CRAP!”
So I hauled booty over to our local Safeway to buy a back up chicken. That puny little back up chicken was nearly $10!!! Luckily there was no need for the chicken because the meal was delicious, but I’m still scarred that I had to spend that kind of money on a little turd bird.
Since then, I’ve learned to be grateful for the $4.99 chickens at Costco and I’ll occasionally buy one, carve it, and stick the meat in the freezer for future use in pasta, casserole, tacos, chili, etc. It’s great to have on hand for those days you’re in a dinner rush and you really don’t want to spend the extra time trimming and cubing raw chicken.
I don’t even remember now what I was doing the day I made this Gluten Free Chicken and Spinach White Cheddar Pasta, but I am most certainly positive I was grateful for that precooked rotisserie chicken in my fridge.
This pasta is basically a fancified mac n’ cheese. Really, do you actually feel like an adult eating mac n’ cheese??? Let’s be honest. NO, you don’t.
So spice up that kid’s meal with some bold sharp white cheddar cheese and a handful of greens. Yes, greens. Don’t whine at me. You need to eat your veggies.
What really takes this dish to a whole ‘nother level of sophistication are the fresh herbs and a splash of white wine vinegar that adds such a subtle tang. I don’t know why, but I always feel a tad bit naughty when I cook with anything that says “wine” on the label. I guess growing up not drinking alcohol, I feel like a rebel with my cooking booze…even if it is just vinegar! Haha!
And once again, Barilla brand’s gluten free pasta saves the day! You guys, this pasta tastes so much like the real deal that I probably couldn’t tell a difference in a blind taste test. They are really on point with their gluten free pastas.
Honestly, the only time I can tell a difference with gluten free pasta is when the pasta is cold, like in a pasta salad. Gluten free pasta is just a bit harder and grainier once it’s chilled after cooking. But it still tastes pretty close to the real deal.
So I very highly recommend using their brand’s pasta for all your noodle needs. You’ll be a happy camper indeed.
But as far as this fancy white cheddar mac n’ cheese goes, it’s ooey gooey, creamy, and full on flavorful.
There’s butter, cheese, cream, more cheese, and lots of seasoned chicken. What’s not to love?!
And can I just give a little health tip here? It’s OKAY to eat fat. Just eat it sparingly. It’s about portion control, guys. You have just a half to three quarters cup of this pasta and then a salad and some fruit on the side to fill you up. That way the meal is completely balanced out and you aren’t left feeling full and bloated.
And just think, the more pasta you don’t eat the first time, the more leftovers you have. YAY!!!!!
So goodbye New Year’s dieting and welcome portioned pasta eating!
How do you dress up your mac n’ cheese?
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary, or dried
- 4 basil leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ tablespoons white rice flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup milk (I used 2%)
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup packed spinach
- 2 cups cooked diced chicken
- 12 oz. box Barilla brand gluten free pasta of your choice
- Begin boiling salted water for pasta. Prepare veggies and chicken by dicing onion, mincing garlic, chopping rosemary and basil, and cutting chicken. Grate the white cheddar cheese. Set the prepared ingredients aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. While pan is heating, begin making sauce. Whisk together heavy cream, milk, ground mustard, lemon juice, pepper, and salt.
- Once pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, add diced onions. Lightly season onions with extra salt and pepper. Cook onions on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and becoming browned, about 5 minutes. Add chopped rosemary and basil leaves and cook 2 minutes more. Add white wine vinegar and cook until reduced, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- At this point you should add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente.
- Begin making sauce by adding 1½ tablespoons white rice flour to onion mixture in saucepan. Stir until flour is incorporated. Slowly pour in cream mixture while whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to a low boil. Cook and stir until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese. Continue stirring until cheese is completely melted and smooth. Reduce heat on stove top to warm and return sauce to burner.
- Once pasta is done, drain, reserving ⅔ cup of pasta water. Pour pasta, spinach, and chicken into saucepan and stir to coat. Stir in enough of the reserved pasta water to get a creamy coating. Heat pasta until chicken is warm and spinach has wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.