Step 1: Start Cooking the Pasta
Fill a saucepan with water and add half a teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil and add the penne. Cook until the pasta is tender, which should take about 12 minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander, return it to the saucepan, drizzle with oil, and stir to prevent sticking.
Step 2: Prepare the Vegetables
While the pasta is cooking, peel and grate the garlic. Then, halve, peel, and thinly slice the shallot.
Step 3: Cook the Chicken
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and fry until it turns golden brown, which should take about 5-6 minutes. Add the sliced shallot to the pan and cook until it softens, about 3-4 minutes.
Step 4: Add Spices
Add the garlic and Cajun spice mix to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Then, add the water, tomato passata, and chicken stock paste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to let it simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 10-12 minutes.
Step 5: Finalise the Sauce
Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the spinach a handful at a time, stirring until it wilts and is piping hot. Stir in half of the hard Italian style cheese, followed by the crème fraiche. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed. Ensure the chicken is cooked through and is no longer pink in the middle.
Step 6: Serve the Dish
Add the drained pasta to the creamy sauce and mix well. If needed, reheat the mixture until it’s piping hot. Divide the pasta and sauce between your bowls, sprinkle the remaining hard Italian style cheese on top, and enjoy your meal!