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Healthier Italian Recipes: Delicious Chicken And Spinach Penne Pasta

Updated on March 15, 2011


This is a great recipe that came to me on my email from a few days ago and being a huge chicken and spinach fan, I just had to try it out.

I unfortunately did not have several of the ingredients it called for but I was able to improvise and make the recipe turn out in spite of that.

This is a delicious variation of Florentine pasta.

Make your own adjustments to it and see if you don't agree....this is a fabulous dinner entree!

Of course, you can revamp this just about any way you want and still end up with a delicious dish.  For more ideas, see my suggestions below.

Also be sure and watch the video for another fantastic recipe!




  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or use more cooking spray)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups mushrooms sliced thin
  • 1 cup of chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup of chopped mini peppers (red, yellow and orange combined)
  • 3 cups of chopped fresh spinach (or use baby spinach)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or use 1 teaspoon dried)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of non-fat cottage cheese
  • 4 cups hot cooked wheat penne pasta (8 ounces uncooked)
  • 2 cups shredded grilled or roasted chicken breast shredded
  • 3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat milk
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced fat, low sodium cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil or cooking spray in large skillet over medium high and add mushrooms, onion and peppers. Saute for about 4 minutes or until tender. Add oregano, spinach and pepper. Cook 3 minutes more or until the spinach begins to wilt in the pan.
  4. Mix cottage cheese in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  5. Stir together the cottage cheese mixture, the spinach mixture, chicken, pasta, 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Add milk and soup and combine all to mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole.
  6. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and the 1/4 cup remaining Parmesan. Add some fresh spinach leaves as well.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling.

Serves 8 - Serve with a tossed green salad and a crusty loaf of Italian bread.


This is definitely a keeper when it comes to healthier Italian recipes. It reminds you of a good mac and cheese but cranks it up a notch by substituting wheat penne pasta as I did and lightening up the milk and cottage cheese.

Try this many different ways such as

  • Substitute different Italian cheeses for the cheddar
  • Use ricotta instead of cottage cheese
  • Use a different mushroom
  • Try red peppers exclusively as the recipe calls for
  • Substitute a different kind of pasta noodle - the sky's the limit on that
  • Try a different meat or even go meatless
  • Add some fresh basil and tomatoes for a delicious change
  • Substitute a different soup such as cream of mushroom or asparagus
  • Use something other than the can of soup as the 'base' or thickener

In short, you can do just about anything with this variation on mac and cheese and have a delicious yet easy meal. Prep the ingredients ahead of time and it really goes quickly!

This dish is also fabulous as leftovers for lunch! The original recipe calculated this out to be 345 calories but I'm sure my version is much less.


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Micky - that sounds like a great idea - thanks for stopping by~!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Nice. I'll substitute TVP. God bless akirchner!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington too. It took a little getting used to the wheat and other pastas but now that I've switched, I really like them. Glad you liked!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I like Italian food. Especially pasta and spaghetti. I thought this recipes as another option for Italian food and totally healthy. Well done, Audrey. I give my vote to you. Cheers...


    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Nifty@50 - Thanks!

      Eiddwen - Hope you like!!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      Mmmmmm I can't wait to try this one.

      thanks for sharing

      Take care


    • nifty@50 profile image

      nifty@50 7 years ago

      Your recipe looks delicious! Thanks for sharing.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Any pasta will do, Laurel - even macaroni! Thanks so much for stopping by and for the read.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Your Griffin-rug sounds quite familiar, Audrey! I really love this recipe; I have never heard of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Garlic Spread. Sounds amazing.

      The only change I would make is the type of pasta-I'm not a big fan of Penne.

      But now I have a wonderful starting recipe.


    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      That's hilarious, Om - and you'd be more than "little" Griffin seems to find every excuse he possibly can to be my kitchen rug....I've almost konked myself out tripping over him but he's no dummy. He knows if he hangs around me long enough, he's going to get something good - in his case, it's not on purpose but he has the quickest reflexes I've ever seen for pretending to be sleeping and magically wolfing down that piece of chicken that got away!

      Any time you happen to be in the area though....come to the Kirchner Hacienda for free food. I always cook like I'm expecting company.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

      This recipe sounds delish. I wish we lived in the same town so I could make up phony excuses to stop by at your place right before dinner time. hehehe :)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Hope they love it - I'm making it again this week it was so good!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Your Healthier Italian Recipes with Chicken and Spinach Penne Pasta look like something my kids would enjoy. Thanks :) Katie

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Pamela - I'm sure you'll enjoy it - it was so yummy I'm thinking of making it again this week!

      Hanna - You are more than welcome - sending you a virtual bowl with some French bread!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you a great recipe.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Audry, That dish looks delicious and not too hard to make. I am bookmarking this hub under my recipes. Thanks.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      We are crossing over Darski - I just read your slow cooker hub - and that is my THING. You can save a lot of money (and time) and cook healthy using them and I totally applaud you promoting them!!!

      As to marrying me, well, Bob might get upset...but I'll keep that in mind should the opportunity present itself! You are too funny and too kind.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Spinash is so good for you and I adore this recipe, yummy and of course you are our chef here on hubpages and when I grow up I want to be just like you. Truly this is awesome, and delicious and HEALTHY...all together, did I say I would marry you if you were single or a you must read my slow cooker hub you will see why once you read it. I rate this up up love & peace darski