There is nothing subtle about this Chicken Broccoli and Bleu Cheese Pasta recipe! This pasta dish features big, bold flavors - roasted broccoli, chicken, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, and of course, bleu cheese. It requires a bit of organization and more than one pan to prepare, but I think you'll find it worth the effort!
Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.
~~ M.F.K. Fisher, preeminent American food writer
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About My Chicken and Bleu Cheese Pasta Inspiration
NOTE: This recipe was originally posted December 9, 2015. We love the recipe, and I decided it was time for an update. This section is pretty much intact, though.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of bleu cheese? Why, wine of course! 😆 Well, I am able to think of quite a few pairings that make my mouth dance: Bleu cheese and walnuts, bleu cheese and caramelized onions, bleu cheese and thyme...
Chicken Broccoli and Bleu Cheese Pasta brings these luscious ingredients together in a glorious cacophony of flavors. My mind does naturally go to wine when I think of bleu cheese, and it is not an easy pairing.
Bleu cheese is rich, salty, and a bit dank, and I guess an off-dry and full-bodied wine is a "proper" choice with a hunk of bleu cheese. However, this dish has lots of other strong flavors (and opportunities to clash!). My suggestion on this one is to go with whatever wine sounds good. We like a full-bodied, oaked chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon.
Some version of this bleu cheese pasta has shown up on our table for years. I started making it for "Sunday funday" with our grown kids and their dogs, and it was a favorite. Last month when I went back to Las Cruces to visit, my kids suggested we make "that bleu cheese pasta."
I had to laugh at myself. It was several months ago that I made this dish several times because I was working on the recipe. Lol. Then we moved to Texas (and away from the kids), and I completely forgot about it. Fortunately, I had a few notes, but to be sure I got it right, I had to make it a few more times. We just had to suffer through the experience...
Whether this recipe is ever one of my top traffic-producers, or not, I knew 3 of our 4 sons would be pleased to have it in writing. I'm not sure many people are googling chicken broccoli bleu cheese pasta, but it's on the blog when they need it!
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- chicken - I prefer boneless, skinless thighs for this pasta dish, but you can use breast meat if you like. You could probably use rotisserie chicken, and add it at the end if you're looking to save time and still have a great meal.
- onion - Red, yellow, sweet, white... all will be fine! Caramelizing the onions brings depth and umami to the dish!
- broccoli - Only fresh will do!
- dry sherry - I love the nuttiness of dry sherry with the caramelized onions. Substitute a dry white wine if you need to. If you prefer to avoid alcohol, use chicken or vegetable broth.
- pasta - Penne is an easy pasta shape for this recipe, but by no means the only option! I think it's easier to eat with a bite-sized pasta, whether it be rotini, ziti, farfalle, macaroni, they're all good!
- sun-dried tomatoes - I prefer the sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil, but you can use them if you don't mind the extra calories. I have also used these slow-roasted tomatoes.
- walnuts - Pecans are a good substitute. One of my sons reminded me that pine nuts are good as well. Like I said, we've made this pasta recipe as a family many times!
- bleu cheese - Bleu cheese is a key ingredient IMHO, so I never substitute. However, if you despise "stinky feet" cheese (like 1 of my adult kids), you can substitute feta. That's how they make it.
- parmesan - I grate parmesan over the broccoli while it roasts, and we love the umami flavor it brings. You can substitute pecorino romano or asiago.
- herbs - I like the combination of thyme and crushed red pepper in this pasta dish. However, I have used others. If I have fresh thyme in my garden (I didn't on photo day), I'll use fresh. I have oregano and rosemary in my garden, and both have made an appearance in this dish. It's got a Mediterranean vibe, and any of the Mediterranean herbs will work.
- crushed red pepper - Crushed red pepper is totally optional. We love the little bit of heat. If I can find calabrian peppers, they're my first choice!
🔪 Pasta Instructions
- NOTE: While this chicken pasta recipe may look involved (and time-consuming), it really isn't. The broccoli roasts while the chicken is sautéed, and the pasta is cooked. It all gets tossed together before serving!
- Prepare the broccoli - Break down the broccoli into florets. You want manageable sized pieces. You can use some of the stem pieces if you peel them and slice thin. Drizzle with olive oil, and grate parmesan over top. NOTE: This step is optional but delicious!
- Roast the broccoli - Roast in a 400° oven until tender and caramelized (about 25 minutes depending on the size of your pieces). NOTE: Those dark, crispy bits are what makes this dish so delicious!
- Sauté the aromatics - While the broccoli roasts, start the chicken and pasta. Put a pasta pot of water on to boil. Add a palm full of salt. To the sauté pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and the onion. Sauté until the onions begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, dried thyme, and crushed red pepper if using.
- Sauté the chicken - Push the aromatics aside. Add the chicken to the skillet. Resist the urge to stir it in... Let the chicken get some color! NOTE: This is a good time to give the broccoli a stir!
- Finish the chicken and aromatics - When the chicken is showing some caramelization, go ahead and stir it altogether.
- Finish the chicken portion of the pasta - De-glaze the skillet with sherry. Cook until reduced by about half. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer gently until ready to put it all together. NOTE: Add a little chicken broth if it looks dry.
- Put it all together - Add the roasted broccoli, cooked pasta, walnuts, and bleu cheese to the skillet. NOTE: Fold in the crumbled bleu cheese just prior to serving so that it only melts slightly and doesn't incorporate into the mixture. Stir to combine.
- To serve - Serve hot or just warm. Scoop into shallow pasta bowls, and garnish with fresh herbs, and additional parmesan as desired. Enjoy!
Is this pasta recipe good leftover?
We think so! Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cover it and reheat in the microwave. Covering it keeps the moisture with the pasta.
What other pasta shapes can I use?
You can really use any shape, but bite-sized pasta makes it easier to eat. Consider ziti, farfalle, rigatoni, cavatappi, etc.
Don't waste the broccoli stems. Peel them with a vegetable peeler, and chop into ½" rounds. Break the bunches into florets.
Salt the pasta water generously. This is your chance to salt the pasta. I use my palm to a pot full of water.
Make it vegetarian. This is a super flavorful vegetarian pasta dish if you leave out the chicken! I promise you won't miss the chicken.
I'm taking an informal survey... how many of you love bleu cheese?
P.S. If you're interested in wine and cheese pairings, you'll love The Ultimate Shopping List of Cheeses for Wine Lovers!
Chicken Broccoli Bleu Cheese Pasta
- 1 pound broccoli*
- 1 tablespoon olive oil - to drizzle
- 2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan*
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion - vertically sliced
- 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves - 2 teaspoons fresh
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 pound boneless - skinless chicken breast, cubed*
- ½ cup dry sherry*
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes - sliced (optional)
- ⅓ cup walnuts - toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces bleu cheese - crumbled
- 8 ounces penne*
- Italian parsley and fresh thyme leaves to garnish
- * See Notes
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange prepared broccoli in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Place in hot oven.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, the minced garlic, and onion. Stir to combine. Continue cooking over medium-high, heat stirring occasionally, until onions begin to caramelize.
- Give the roasting broccoli a good stir, and continue to cook.
- Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Make sure to add salt to the pasta water!*
- Add cubed chicken breast, thyme leaves, and crushed red pepper to the saute pan. Cook until chicken is browning nicely on most sides. De-glaze the pan with the sherry. Stir. Cook until about half of the liquid is evaporated.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Prior to draining it, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Check the broccoli. When the broccoli is almost tender, sprinkle with parmesan, and cook an additional 5 minutes. The total cooking time for the broccoli can be anywhere from 25-45 minutes depending on your oven and the size of the pieces. It should be tender, but not soft when you pull it from the oven.
- Add sun dried tomatoes and walnuts. Stir well. When the pasta is al dente, drain, and add to the saute pan. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Immediately before serving, gently fold the crumbled bleu cheese into the pasta mixture. Garnish with fresh thyme and chopped parsley. Buon appetito!
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
Evan Andersen says
I made this with garbanzo beans instead of chicken, and it was fantastic.
Great idea Evan! I've thought all along the chicken is superfluous 🙂
Rachel @ Simple Seasonal says
The flavors in this dish sound so good! I can see enjoying this with my husband and a glass of wine after we put the kiddo to bed.
It would be perfect for a date night! Thanks Rachel!
Annie @ Annie's Noms says
Do you deliver?! This looks amazing! Wish it was my dinner this evening!
Haha! I wish I could accommodate 🙂 I love to cook for people, and since moving to south Texas 4 months ago, have had no opportunity to do so. Merry Christmas Annie!
You don't need it delivered. Having eaten this recipe many times and assisted in preparation, its too easy to have someone do for you. Because Tamara is a fantastic writer and her recipes are easy to follow, you can make nearly everything on the blog yourself with ease. She is a phenomenal cook, but don't let that intimidate you.
Love you Devin!
You had me at blue cheese!! And roasted broccoli!! Love both of them & this sounds delicious!
Thanks Chris! I'm pretty sure bleu cheese makes everything taste better, but roasted broccoli goes really well with it 🙂
I am a big fan of "stinky feet cheese" and I will pair anything with wine! LOL! This dish is beautiful and it sounds delicious. Definitely on my "make it" list.
Yay! It does seem to be a polarizing ingredient... I'd rather have a glass of wine and a hunk of bleu cheese than just about anything 😉 Thanks Emme!
This looks absolutely delicious! What a perfect weeknight meal. Can't wait to try!!
Thanks Sarah! Pasta dishes do make great weeknight meals, and this one has some really interesting flavors 🙂
Tamara made this when we vacationed in Taos, NM and I loved the flavors! I will definitely be making this for my family. I am lucky; they are picky but they love blue cheese 🙂
I think it's funny that they're picky but eat bleu cheese! Nils refers to it as "stinky feet cheese," and I don't put it in anything when I'm cooking for him. Gerritt used to feel the same, but they do cheese tastings at the CIA, and he's learning to like it. Yay!
Mark Andersen says
Count me in as one who loves bleu cheese!
Why am I not surprised? 😉