Chicken Florentine Pasta – Classic Italian American food is a classic Italian dish that has long been one of my favorites, as a spinach lover. Like spinach and cream? You will love this pasta, easily made with leftover chicken.
Chicken Florentine Nostalgia
I modernized this dish with a quick and simple method, using leftover chicken. Leftover chicken breast or Rotisserie chicken from your favorite take out? This is a quick and delicious recipe you can utilize it with. You can even make it with canned chicken!
It’s funny how emotional food can be and how certain foods automatically make us recall specific memories. When I decided to do the theme this week of Italian sauces, this immediately went on my shortlist of ideas because it has long been one of my favorites and it’s a quick and easy recipe to make as many of you have kids at home this week or in the coming weeks for Spring Break or Passover holidays, depending where your kids go to school! Even if you are not Jewish as this recipe is NOT Kosher mixing dairy and meat, your kids may still be home.
As I was cooking the recipe, I started remembering how this was my go to dish when I used to frequent Pizzeria Uno. Pizzeria Uno is a NYC restaurant chain that serves Chicago style deep dish pizza and pasta dishes. When I was in college, we would often go there to celebrate post exams after we were finished and getting ready for our holidays! When I graduated college, it was still a fave with my friends and I. It was budget friendly as we were all in our first full time jobs and not making much $, so we could afford a pizza or pasta dish with a cocktail or a glass of wine without breaking our budget.
I started recalling friends who I no longer speak to for no reason other than the passage of time and as we take different paths in life, we often lose contact with old friends. College mates are often friends of convenience. You are in classes together, so after school you will go eat together or go to a movie together. However, the friendships don’t always go beyond that where once you are out of those surroundings, you no longer see those friends and the relationships get lost. Most of us only have a handful of true friends where regardless of circumstance or convenience, we check in with each other. During our lives, we will have many of these transient friendships of circumstance.
I read a quote once that I can’t recall exactly but something along the lines of some friends coming into our lives when we needed them and just as quietly disappearing when no longer needed and that God sends us these friends for a reason. It is not necessary to feel sad at the lost friendship, but instead we should just remember the time fondly.
Wow, this post got a lot more philosophical than I intended. But it just shows you what an important part food plays in all of our lives.
Although technically speaking this is a French dish, since it is named after an Italian city and most of us in America associate it with Italian cuisine, I am presenting it as part of my Italian theme.
Catherine de Medici of Florence married the French King Henry II in 1533. Spinach grew abundantly in her home city and it was her favorite vegetable. Legend has it that she insisted it be included in all of her meals. She traveled to France with an entourage of cooks and oodles of spinach. Now any dish created with spinach picks up the name a la Florentine, whether or not it actually comes from Florence.
Milk and dairy products are also used more abundantly in north Italian cuisines and so cream and spinach in the sauce becomes Florentine!
So do you like spinach as much as the famous queen? If so, try some of my other Spinach Dishes!
- Spinach Harissa Hummus
- Rishta Palak – Kashmiri Lamb Meatballs in Spinach Sauce
- Double Spinach Ravioli
- Plantain Spinach Smoothie
- Spinach Multi Grain Semolina Bread
- Finnish Spinach Pancakes
- Palak Mangodi – Spinach with Sun Dried Lentils
- Apricot Spinach Salad
IN THE MAKING
You don’t have to use chicken. Once you have the creamy spinach sauce made, you can add anything you want to it!
This creamy pasta is so delicious and quick and easy to put together, especially if you already have leftover chicken about.
The perfect one pot meal!
Want to turn this into a #glutenfree meal – Simply replace with the many gluten free pasta options now available!
Chicken Florentine Pasta – Classic Italian American Food
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 1 ½ cups diced cooked chicken
- 3 cups cooked pasta
- crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
- salt to taste
- freshly chopped parsley garnish
- In a saucepan, cook butter and flour until the butter is melted and raw flour taste is cooked out. This is called a roux. Cook the roux until it is golden brown.
- Add cream and milk. Simmer for 5 minutes, until thickened.
- Add cheese and cook for 1 more minutes.
- Turn off heat and add spinach leaves. They will wilt in a few minutes.
- Add chicken, pasta and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine.
- Taste and add salt, if needed.
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