Three Cheese Chicken Cavatappi

Three Cheese Chicken Cavatappi

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Three Cheese Chicken Cavatappi is a recipe I conjured up based on an entrée from Applebee’s Restaurant that I ate one time. Tender fried chicken pieces layered over a pile of cheesy pasta and topped with a delicious-tomato basil topping. It’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner, yet has enough “wow-factor” for a weekend meal with guests.

Three Cheese Chicken Penne

(Post modified with new photos on 4/13/23.)

Years ago, I made this dish using Penne pasta. And then I fell in love with Cavatappi. I simply adore the look and taste of Cavatappi in a cheesy dish such as macaroni and cheese, or a cheesy goulash, or one such as this recipe.

 

Make This Dish with Cavatappi Pasta (or Penne Pasta)

I’m of the opinion that the look of pasta effects the taste of a dish! Right or wrong, I don’t know. But that’s how it seems to me.

 

More Cheesy Pasta Dishes

 

Ingredients For Three Cheese Chicken Cavatappi

(See the full recipe at the bottom of this post.)

  • chicken breast strips or skinless boneless thighs
  • creamy Italian dressing

Three Cheese Pasta

  • Cavatappi pasta (I like De Cecco)
  • Your favorite Alfredo sauce (I like Bertolli)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Provolone Cheese
  • Fresh Parmesan
  • whole milk

Tomato Basil Topping

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sweet onion
  • red bell pepper
  • minced garlic
  • canned petite diced tomatoes
  • dry red wine
  • granulated sugar
  • dried basil
  • Italian herb seasoning
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes

 

Instructions for this Recipe

Ingredients for this Recipe

Gather all your ingredients so that you have everything close at hand on the counter or table.

 

Prepare your Ingredients for Chicken Cavatappi

Using a cutting board and sharp knife, slice chicken breast strips (or chicken thighs) into 1/2″ pieces.

With a box grater, shred the Mozzarella and Provolone cheese. Grate fresh parmesan with a fine grated zester.

Prepare the Vegetables - Mince the Garlic

On a second cutting board, chop the sweet onion and red bell pepper. Mince the garlic.

It’s a good practice to use a second cutting board when preparing meats (especially chicken) and vegetables to eliminate the spread of bacteria. I use color-coded plastic boards for meats and my wooden cutting board for everything else.

Cook the Chicken

In a large skillet, sear chicken pieces in 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, cooking for 5-6 minutes before turning. Continue cooking until pieces are golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

Stir in the Italian dressing and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the skillet and keep warm.

 

Make the Pasta

In a medium saucepan add the Cavatappi pasta to boiling water with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Cook to al dente according to package directions, 6-8 minutes.

Drain the pasta in a colander and then return to the saucepan.

Pour Alfredo sauce over the cooked pasta. Heat on low heat until the sauce begins to boil.

I like using Bertolli Alfredo Sauce for this recipe. It’s quick and very good. If you feel motivated to make your own, go ahead. Try my Homemade Alfredo Sauce Here. 

Add the Cheese to the Cooked Pasta

Remove from heat and add shredded Mozzarella and Provolone cheese and the grated Parmesan. Mix well with a long-handled wooden spoon. Cover and allow for the cheese to melt 5-7 minutes.

If the cheesy pasta seems too thick, you may add up to 1/4 cup of whole milk to make it creamier.

 

Prepare the Tomato-Basil Topping

While the pasta cooks, return to the large skillet and heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the chopped sweet onion and red bell pepper, and minced garlic until tender.

Prepare the Tomato-Basil topping for Three Cheese Chicken Cavatappi

Add in the petite diced tomatoes, dry red wine, granulated sugar, dried basil, Italian herb seasonings, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer until most of the juice is gone, 7-10 minutes.

To serve, place generous amount of cheesy pasta on each plate. Layer with chicken and a large spoonful of tomato-basil topping.

Serving Pasta with a Fresh Salad

This recipe will serve 6-8 people. I like to serve this dish with a nice green salad and Soft Breadsticks.

Wine Recommendation: Kendall-Jackson Vitner’s Reserve Chardonnay

See more Main Dishes Here. Browse Pasta Dishes Here.

 

Featured Image - Recipe for Three Cheese Chicken Cavatappi

Three Cheese Chicken Cavatappi

Here's a delightful recipe I conjured up based on an entree from Applebee's. Can you say YUM?
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate Pin Recipe
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Alfredo Sauce, Cavatappi Pasta, Chicken Breast, Mozzarella, Parmesan Cheese, Provolone
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8

Ingredients 
 

  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 pounds chicken strips or skinless boneless chicken thighs sliced into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/3 cup creamy Italian dressing

Three Cheese Pasta

  • 16 oz. Cavatappi Pasta
  • 15 oz. Alfredo sauce
  • 4 oz. Mozzarella shredded
  • 4 oz. Provolone shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup whole milk if needed

Tomato-Basil Topping

  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion chopped
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 10 oz. canned petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Gather all your ingredients so that you have everything close at hand on the counter or table.

Prepare the Ingredients

  • Using a cutting board and sharp knife, slice chicken strips or chicken thighs into 1/2" pieces.
  • With a box grater, shred the Mozzarella and Provolone cheese. Grate fresh parmesan with a fine grated zester.
  • On a second cutting board, chop the sweet onion and red bell pepper. Mince the garlic.

Cook the Chicken

  • In a large skillet, sear chicken pieces in 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, cooking for 5-6 minutes before turning. Continue cooking until pieces are golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
  • Stir in the Italian dressing and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the skillet and keep warm.

Make the Pasta

  • In a medium saucepan add the Cavatappi pasta to boiling water with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Cook to al dente according to package directions.
    Drain the pasta in a colander and then return to the saucepan.
  • Pour Alfredo sauce over the cooked pasta. Heat on low heat until the sauce begins to boil.
  • Remove from heat and add shredded Mozzarella and Provolone cheese and grated Parmesan. Mix well with a long-handled wooden spoon. Cover and allow for the cheese to melt 5-7 minutes.
  • If cheesy pasta seems too thick, you may add up to 1/4 cup whole milk to make it creamier.

Prepare the Tomato-Basil Topping

  • While the pasta cooks, return to the large skillet and heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the chopped sweet onion and red bell pepper, and minced garlic until tender.
  • Add in the petite diced tomatoes, dry red wine, granulated sugar, dried basil, dried Italian herb seasonings, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until most of the juice is gone, 7-10 minutes.
  • To serve, place generous amount of cheesy pasta on each plate. Layer with chicken and a large spoonful of tomato-basil topping. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired. Serves 6-8.

Notes

Wine Recommendation: Kendall-Jackson Vitner's Reserve Chardonnay

Nutrition

Calories: 672kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 1192mg | Potassium: 642mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 607IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 306mg | Iron: 2mg
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