This Spicy Chicken Penne Pasta is made with ground chicken, garlic, onion, olives, and topped with lovely Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It’s also loaded with fresh basil and mint leaves, and tossed in the most delectable spicy tomato cream sauce. Perfect for busy weeknights or a date night in!
1–2 TSP Chili Oil (optional, but I highly recommend it as it brings out the bright flavors in the sauce and adds a lil’ extra kick to it!)
1 TBLS Unsalted Butter
8 ounces / 227 grams uncooked Penne Pasta (or any other noodle type/short cut pasta shape. Use gluten-free/whole wheat pasta if needed)
1 pound / 480 grams Ground Chicken
2 (14-ounce / 400 grams) cans Chopped Tomatoes (I used chopped Italian tomatoes with olive oil & garlic)
1 cup + 2 TBLS / 200ml Cooking or Single Cream (or use or Half-and-Half or whole milk for a lighter version)
12 Garlic cloves – minced
4 –14 fresh Red Chilies (optional – I used Thai Bird’s Eye, but any hot red chilies will work), to taste and deseeded depending on your desired heat level – chopped
½ Yellow Onion – minced
12 Pitted Black Olives – sliced
35–40g Fresh Italian Basil Leaves, about 2 & ½ cups loosely packed – washed, dried, and sliced
¼ cup fresh Mint Leaves, washed and dried
3 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
2 TSP Black Pepper
1.5 – 2 TSP Smoked Paprika (hot or sweet depending on your preference – I use hot)
1.5 – 2 TSP Crushed Red Chili Pepper flakes, more or less to taste
1.5 – 2 TSP ground Cayenne, more or less to taste
1–2 TSP dried Mint Flakes (optional)
1 TSP Garlic Powder
1 TSP Onion Powder
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano / Grana Padano / Parmesan / or your favorite type of cheese
To Serve (optional): More freshly grated cheese and additional crushed red chili pepper, to taste
Combine spices and seasonings: Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Cover with cling wrap and set aside.
Chop the fresh ingredients: Chop the garlic, red chilies, onion, black olives, the fresh basil leaves and the mint leaves as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section.
For the Spicy Chicken Penne Pasta:
Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions in a large pot of salted water. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
Sauté onion and aromatics: Heat olive oil, chili oil (if using), and unsalted butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant – about one minute. Add the red chilies and sauté for another minute.
Cook the ground chicken: Add the ground chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, breaking the lumps with your spatula/wooden spoon as you go, until cooked through.
Build the sauce: Pour in the canned chopped tomatoes and the cooking cream, mix to combine. Then add all the spices and seasonings in the small bowl you made earlier, as well as the sliced olives. Stir until combined and let cook for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the fresh herbs: Stir in the chopped fresh basil and mint leaves. Then, turn down the heat to medium and let simmer (uncovered) for 5-8 minutes or until the sauce and meat mixture has thickened slightly.
Add the pasta: Add the penne pasta to the pan and stir and toss to combine with everything, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off the stove and remove from heat.
To Serve: Transfer to a serving dish and top with the freshly grated Parmigiano Regianno Cheese. Serve with extra cheese and additional crushed red pepper flakes on the side if desired (optional).
To make this gluten-free: Use a gluten-free pasta and cheese, and check the ingredients on the canned chopped tomatoes to make sure there aren’t any ingredients with gluten in it.
To make this dairy-free: Omit the cream completely or substitute with almond milk. Also make sure to use a dairy-free cheese.
To make this vegetarian: Use a soy-based ground product like Nutrela. Or use veggie sausage and break it up in the pan with your spatula, then add the tomatoes and cream.
Feel free to halve the recipe: This recipe makes 4-6 servings, but feel free to halve it if you like.
Serving Size:1 plate
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.