Creamy pancetta chicken spinach pasta

March 1, 2021

By Chef Jessica Van Roo, assistant director of Culinary Recreation & Experiential Programs at UC Irvine

Serves 4


  • 4 ounce diced pancetta
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon double concentrate tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 -3 Boneless skinless chicken thighs diced, about 8oz
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I use frozen cream!)
  • 2/3 cup Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • 7-8 oz Linguine or your favorite pasta, cooked
  • Reserve some pasta water


  1. Heat a cast iron pan over high heat until hot. Coat with a little oil and then plays pancetta in pan. Render the fat out of the pancetta, cooking until crisp.
  2. Remove pancetta from pan and drain on a paper towel.
  3. Cook onions and garlic in rendered pancetta back until onion is just begin to brown.
  4. Add chicken into pan and cook until browned, don’t worry about cooking through you will continue cooking it in the sauce.
  5. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, Italian seasoning into pan, cook for 5 to 8 minutes until sauce has reduced and thickened.
  6. Add cooked pasta into pan and toss to coat. Add cream and cheese into sauce and pasta. Thin out your sauce by adding a ladle if reserved pasta water if desired.
  7. Place baby spinach on top of pasta cover pan with a lid. Cook for 30 seconds to one minute or until spinach has wilted.
  8. Toss well and top with pancetta and serve!