Monday, September 30, 2013

Baked Chicken & Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Apparently, it's casserole season. I'm only rebelling a little, refusing to put away my flip flops and I'm still trying to sleep with the windows open, but since it's officially Autumn, I feel like it's okay to post this now.

This particular was one of my very first pins, and it's one of my favorite guilty pleasures/comfort foods when I'm feeling sick or need some kitchen therapy. It makes a ton, and it makes plenty so I can enjoy it for lunch all week. (And when I do, people are always sniffing around and trying to get a taste of this.) It has all my favorite things AND makes a great freezer meal. This is my favorite thing to bring to a new mom. If you know anyone who needs some kitchen lovin',add this to your "to make" list. It's the right thing to do.

Baked Chicken & Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
(As seen on Real Mom Kitchen & Our Best Bites, originally from Martha Stewart)

6 T. butter, plus a little more for baking dish

1 lb. penne rigate
1 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. buttom mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
6 c. milk
1 c. sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped (if not already chopped)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 c. Italian blend shredded cheese**
1 1/2 c. grated parmesean cheese, divided
2 c.. cooked chicken*
3 T. chopped fresh parsley

*I usually use shredded or diced, but you can also use chicken strips and up the amount to 2 1/2 or 3 c.
**I use a blend of mozzarella, provolone, fontina, and asiago.

Heat oven to 400* F. Butter a 9 x 13 in. pan and set aside.Boil water for the pasta. Salt well, and cook according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, stirring often, until most of the liquids have released and evaporated, not more than 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside. In a large, heavy pot, melt 6 T. butter. Add the flour and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Next, gradually add milk to the pot, mixing constantly, until well blended. Reduce heat to medium, and bring sauce to a simmer. Continue whisking frequently until sauce has thickened, 1-2 minutes.

To the sauce, add cooked mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir together and cook for 1 minute. Season well with salt and pepper. Stir in the Italian cheeses and 1/2 c. of parmesean. Stir constantly, until cheese has melted. Turn off the heat. Check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Add chicken and pasta to the pot and mix well to coat everything evenly with sauce. Pour into your prepped baking dish, spread evenly, and top with remaining parmesean. Bake at 400* F.until lightly golden and bubbling, 20-25 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve immediately.


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