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This lighter chicken and bacon pasta is made healthier with Canadian bacon, lean chicken breast, half-and-half, and fresh vegetables. Cajun spices and plenty of garlic take the flavor to the next level!

This post is sponsored by Barilla Canada – thank you for supporting the brands that keep Salt & Lavender cooking! I only work with brands whose products I love.

lighter chicken and bacon pasta on a white plate

October 25 is World Pasta Day, and I am so excited to be working with Barilla to celebrate one of the most popular and versatile ingredients in the world!

There are some brands out there that you can instantly recognize by getting a quick glimpse of their packaging. Whenever I spot the Barilla blue box at my local grocery store, I know that I can use their pasta as a base to incorporate more vegetables, legumes, and other healthy foods into my meals. I have used Barilla pastas in my cooking for years, and I find their pastas to be easy to cook al dente every time, affordable, tasty, and high quality.

I chose Barilla’s Penne Rigate for this quick and easy dish. It holds the sauce well, which is perfect for a recipe like this one!

collage with Canadian bacon on the left and skillet of chicken bacon pasta on the right

box of Barilla penne rigate

Did you know that here in Canada we typically refer to Canadian bacon as back bacon? I’ve heard of both terms, but somehow I didn’t make the connection that they’re the same thing until recently. I decided to use it in this recipe because it’s something a little different, and the leaner meat still satisfies those bacon cravings without adding hundreds of extra calories. It’s also a way to highlight Canada in a small way for World Pasta Day. 🙂

To continue with our “world” theme here, I added Cajun seasoning (native to Louisiana) to the mix. Not because I was deliberately searching for another region to focus on in this dish or anything like that, but because it’s one of my favorite spice blends to really give a dish some extra zing.

chicken and bacon pasta in a bowl beside box of Barilla pasta

The acidity of the tomatoes is nicely balanced out with the half-and-half. Just enough to make the sauce feel rich without being heavy. I added broccolini and mushrooms for more vitamins, color, and flavor.

I served this pasta family-style in a large bowl that I couldn’t resist buying the other day. A giant, steaming hot bowl of pasta is what dreams are made of, right? I added plenty of fresh parmesan to my (much smaller) bowl while my husband added some red pepper flakes to his because nothing can ever be spicy enough for him. That’s the beauty of pasta dishes, though… they can easily be made “my way” and enjoyed by everyone. 😉

two bowls of lighter chicken and bacon pasta, box of Barilla pasta, and serving bowl of pasta

I hope you love this easy healthy pasta recipe!

You can visit for more recipes and inspiration.

This lighter chicken and bacon pasta is made healthier with Canadian bacon, lean chicken breast, half-and-half, and fresh vegetables. Cajun spices and plenty of garlic take the flavor to the next level!
5 from 2 votes

Lighter Chicken and Bacon Pasta

This lighter chicken and bacon pasta is made healthier with Canadian bacon, lean chicken breast, half-and-half, and fresh vegetables. Cajun spices and plenty of garlic take the flavor to the next level! 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 (16 ounce/454g) package Barilla Blue Box Penne Rigate
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound back bacon (Canadian bacon) diced
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 1/2 small onion chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (e.g. sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 (14 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 ounces broccolini cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half 
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
  • Fresh parsley chopped (optional)


  • Boil a large, generously salted pot of water for the Barilla Penne Rigate. Cook al dente according to package directions (11-12 minutes). 
  • Meanwhile, prep your back bacon, chicken, onion, mushrooms, and broccolini. 
  • Add olive oil to a skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the back bacon and chicken to the pan and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Stir in the white wine and mushrooms. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, Dijon mustard, and broccolini. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add in the half-and-half and season with salt & pepper to taste. Let the sauce warm through. Drain the penne and toss with the sauce.
  • Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh parsley if desired. 

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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5 from 2 votes

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  1. Jennifer Farley says:

    5 stars
    This looks so good! A perfect dinner!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks, Jennifer! 🙂

  2. Leigh Ann says:

    Wishing I had this for my lunch today!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thank you 🙂 Hope you have a great day!

  3. Jennifer @ Show Me the Yummy says:

    Love this lighter dish!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks, Jennifer!

  4. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says:

    This is the perfect meal and pasta to eat! and I LOVE Barilla!!! yum!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks so much, Alice!!

  5. Mary Ann| The Beach House Kitchen says:

    I love this lightened up version Natasha. I live Barilla pasta too!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thank you! It’s great stuff!

  6. Natasha's Sister says:

    5 stars
    Can you make this for me without chicken or bacon?

    1. Natasha says:


  7. Matt says:

    So many amazing flavors happening here, wish this was my lunch today!

    1. Natasha says:

      Thanks so much, Matt! 🙂