Ever popular, Carino’s Chicken Bowtie Festival is a flavorful and easy pasta dish made with sauteed chicken, bacon, and a creamy, cheesy tomato sauce.
Whenever I think of Italian food, my brain automatically goes to pasta. Without a doubt, it’s my favorite kind of Italian food. One of my favorite Italian pasta dishes comes from Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant, and it’s called Grilled Chicken Bowtie Festival.
My copycat version of Carino’s Chicken Bowtie Festival is made by combining bow tie pasta with chicken, bacon, garlic, red onions, tomatoes in an Asiago cream sauce. Instead of only using marinara sauce or Alfredo sauce, you get the best of both worlds with the cream sauce and the fresh tomatoes.
To be honest, I’m not sure why Carino’s calls it a “festival”. If I had to guess, I think it’s because it’s a beautiful white dish with pops of red throughout (from the bacon, tomatoes, and red onion). It’s really stunning when it comes to the table.
Now, there’s no need to go out when you can make this copycat favorite at home! It’s full of flavor and does not need any special ingredients. It’s absolutely perfect for dinner any night of the week!
Carino’s Chicken Bowtie Festival Equipment
For this recipe, you’ll only need two pans: one to cook the pasta, and one to cook the other ingredients.
To make the pasta, I recommend using a Large Pot (7 Quart). The reason you want to cook pasta in a large pot because it allows the water to completely surround the pasta. This helps cook the pasta evenly. Plus, using a large pot prevents the pasta water from boiling over.
To cook the remaining ingredients, I use this 5 quart deep sided skillet because the chicken and the sauce can cook in the same pan without any spillage. I use this pan more than any other pan in my cupboard!
Carino’s Chicken Bowtie Festival Prep Tips
This copycat Carino’s Chicken Bowtie Festival starts by cooking bow tie pasta. As the pasta cooks, saute bacon, chicken, red onion, and garlic. Next, create a pan sauce by adding flour, cream, chicken stock, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, and Asiago cheese. Drain the pasta, and add it to the Asiago tomato cream sauce, and serve.
One thing you may notice about this recipe is the the flavors build on each other. For example, the chicken, garlic, and onions, are cooked in the bacon fat. The pasta water is added to the sauce in place of chicken stock. The Cajun seasoning contains powdered garlic and onion. For this reason, this dish is full of flavor! You definitely won’t be disappointed.
Do be careful adding salt though. Naturally, there is a lot of salt in bacon, bouillon, and the Asiago cheese. So, don’t add any additional salt (except for the pasta) until the end of the recipe.
To be honest, I had a hard time naming this post/recipe. “Bow tie” is actually two words, but Carino’s has spells it as one word. What is a anal retentive, grammar freak like me to do? Ugh. I kept the name of the dish as one word. But when I refer to the pasta, I will use two words. So, please excuse the inconsistency in spelling!
Beyond the spacing issue, when buying the pasta, you may find it with a different name. Bow tie pasta is also known as farfalle or butterfly pasta. (In Italian, farfalle means butterfly.) If you can find it, I really like the mini farfalle. I find they keep their structure better as they cook. But, normal-sized farfalle works too.
Whenever cooking pasta, be sure to salt your water well. As a rule of thumb, I add about 1 tsp of salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot of salt, but you really do need this much salt. Not all of it will be absorbed into the pasta, and it will add depth of flavor to your dish.
TIP: Right before draining pasta, save 1 cup of pasta water. To do this easily, dip a coffee mug or measuring cup into the pasta water. Fill the cup with water, and set aside.
While I love the taste of pasta, I don’t always love the high-calorie count. So, to lighten the dish without sacrificing flavor, I use a combination of chicken stock and heavy cream. If you used only cream, the calorie count would be much higher.
To really amp up the flavor of the sauce, I prefer to chicken bouillon or chicken base with 1 cup of reserved pasta water. Sometimes, chicken stock doesn’t have a strong flavor. So, by using the chicken base, we can enhance the chicken flavor by adding more to taste. Although, feel free to use chicken stock instead of the chicken base and water.
Finally, add a tsp of Cajun seasoning to the sauce. It adds a slight spice and a lot of flavor.
Want More Copycat Carino’s Recipes?
Unfortunately, Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant no longer has any locations in Utah. Although, my mom and I still go when we are in Idaho. If you are lucky enough to be near one, please go for me! This isn’t sponsored, I just love, and miss, their restaurant.
Thankfully, I do have other copycat Johnny Carino’s recipes to hold me (and maybe you) over until we can go again:
Also be sure to checkout these other Italian copycat favorites:
Or to find all my other copycat recipes, click here!
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Carino’s Chicken Bowtie Festival Pasta Copycat
- 5 Quart Skillet
- 12 oz Bow Tie Pasta
- 6 slices Bacon Thick-Cut
- 1 lb Chicken Breasts Boneless, Skinless (about 2 breasts), Thinly Sliced
- 1/2 small Red Onion Finely Diced
- 1 1/2 tsp Garlic Minced
- 1 large Tomato Diced
- 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
- 2-3 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 1 tsp Chicken Bouillon*
- 1/2 cup Asiago Cheese Shredded
- Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder To Taste
- In a large pot, bring 4 – 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt to taste (about 1 tsp). Add bow tie pasta to pot, and stir gently. Return to a boil, and cook pasta two minutes less than recommended cooking time (about 7-9 minutes).
- Before draining pasta, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid*. Drain pasta over a colander in the sink.
- While the pasta is cooking, chop bacon into 1" pieces. Add bacon to a large skillet. Cook for 6-8 minutes until bacon is cooked through. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon from skillet, and place on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess grease.
- Add sliced chicken, diced onion, and minced garlic to the skillet with the bacon fat. Cook for 6-8 minutes until chicken is no longer pink and onions are softened.
- Add 2 tbsp flour to chicken, and cook for an additional 2 minutes to remove raw flour taste.
- To the large skillet with the chicken, add the drained pasta, cooked bacon, diced tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, heavy cream, chicken bouillon, and reserved pasta water*. Cook for 5-10 minutes until sauce is warmed through and begins to thicken.
- Add Asiago cheese, and stir to incorporate. Add additional salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.