A More “Refined” Italian Chicken and Pasta Bake
As a follow-up to my last post with an “easy” Italian chicken bake, this recipe follows on its heels with a little more “sophistication.” While it does call for a little more effort in the kitchen, you’re nicely rewarded with an abundance of scrumptious flavors! This recipe is a favorite at our house, so I hope you’ll love it as much as we do!
What you’ll need:
- 2 1/2 cups brown rice pasta spirals (or any small pasta)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 chicken breast halves, chopped into small chunks
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 cups of spinach or kale, fresh or frozen
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 1 heaping tablespoon dried parsley)
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon Basil
- dash of Oregano
- dash of Thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs* (see below to make your own!)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 – 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
What to Do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook just until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Using a strainer, drain pasta and “shock” by running cold water over it, draining well. Add to casserole dish.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken (I like to just dice up the chicken in the pan) and cook until browned. Add the onions, garlic, and bell peppers, stirring to combine. Cook until the onions and peppers are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes more.
Add the cooked chicken and veggies to the casserole dish with the pasta. Next add the tomatoes, spinach or kale, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Use a spatula to lightly stir and combine the ingredients. Alternatively, you could use a large mixing bowl to combine before adding to the casserole dish.
Sprinkle a dash of oregano and thyme on top and then add the bread crumbs, spreading evenly. If using butter, dot the top with small bits. Lastly, spread the mozzarella and parmesan cheese to evenly cover the dish.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
*Make your own healthy bread crumbs! Simply take 1-2 pieces of bread (I like Food for Life Ezekial Bread, but if you’re looking to go gluten free you can use Brown Rice Bread, Millet, etc), tear in half and throw in the food processor, pulsing until you get small “bread crumbs.” Voila!