If you're using asparagus, add it into the pasta water and cook it along with the pasta for about 4 minutes. If you're using spinach, toss it in at the last minute and let it wilt just slightly.
Tonight I found myself with crushed tomatoes, no cream, only cream cheese. It worked out deliciously. Another bonus? This can be made ahead and kept separate until you're ready to throw it together and reheat it slowly. Very handy if you find yourself in that crazy "witching hour" that haunts my house every.single.night.
Chicken and Pasta in Tomato-Cream Sauce
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs olive oil
14 oz can diced tomatoes- with their juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and cook, in batches if necessary, until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Remove chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. In same pan, heat up 1 tbs olive oil and cook garlic until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomatoes and cook until reduced slightly, about 4-5 minutes. Add cream and thicken 2-3 minutes more. Add chicken back to pan to warm through. Add pasta, crushed red pepper, and cheese and toss to coat. Add reserved pasta water as needed if sauce is too thick. Serve with more parmesan cheese, if desired.