Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chicken Pasta Bake

At our house, we have many favorite recipes. Some are tried and true recipes that I have been making for years. Some are recipes from my childhood, some from my husband's. There are favorite comfort foods, like Sloppy Joes. Favorite restaurant knock-offs, like #54 and Penne Cardinale.

Sometimes though, the gem can be a newly discovered recipe.

Last weekend, as you may know, I cleaned out my pantry. In so doing, I found some partial boxes of pasta. Not being one to waste and knowing that serving a bowl of mixed pasta with sauce might not be well received, I decided to concoct something new. I had chicken thawing that I needed to use up, as we had made a last minute dinner change on Saturday when we were out later than expected running errands. So, my challenge was to come up with a dish that would use those ingredients. I also knew I had some assorted cheese leftover from serving crackers and cheese when we had guests a few nights earlier.

My first thought was a chicken lasagna - you know in all of my life, I honestly don't believe I have ever had a chicken lasagna. Of course, I only had a few lasagna noodles and there were other noodles. In the end, I did two dishes - one layered and one tossed.

Chicken Pasta Bake

1# Pasta - assorted or the same, prepared
3 Chicken Breasts - baked and shredded
12oz Cheese - assorted or the same
1 1/2 jar/can Pasta Sauce

For the lasagna, I started by layering a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan and then a layer of lasagna. Then chicken, cheese and sauce. I topped this layer with assorted noodles and then repeated the chicken, cheese and sauce. Another layer of lasagna noodles, some chicken, sauce and lastly cheese. I sprinkled this with a touch of garlic powder and onion salt.

For the pasta bake, I tore long noodles into bite size pieces and mixed with the chicken in the pan. Then I added some sauce and cheese, stirred and added a little more sauce. I topped this dish with cheese and a touch of garlic powder and onion salt.

I baked at 350 for 45 minutes covered, with the two pans side by side in my oven.

We found the dish to be very tasty. I think the assortment of cheese - Swiss, Pepper Jack and Mozzarella gave it a good depth of flavor. I did shred the chunks of cheese I had so that it would be more evenly distributed. I used a full can of Hunt's Zesty & Spicy canned pasta sauce in addition to some Ragu Meat flavored sauce that we had leftover in the refrigerator. The ingredient amounts I listed is approximately what I used to make two pans - but I wasn't using a full 9x13 baking dish for either. I used a 9x9 square for the bake and a 6x8 baking dish for the lasagna. I would think that 1# pasta, 1 jar sauce and about 10 oz of cheese would work for a standard baking dish.

My husband did make a point of the fact that it wasn't a chicken pasta casserole, because that doesn't sound as good as a chicken pasta bake. In fact, he told me he doesn't like casseroles, so I guess we will be eating a lot of bakes at my house.

For more favorites, old and new, check out the Ultimate Recipe Swap favorites edition at Life as Mom.

For more recipes, check out the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap and Cook-It Wednesday.


SnoWhite said...

Sounds like it would be a hit at our place too!