Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta

I know this might surprise you, since you see the word "chicken" in the title.  And yes, this dinner did have chicken in it.  But before you get too excited, just understand that this was a special occasion.  We had Anne over for dinner and I know I can't always make my guests east vegetarian.  Also, Kenzie chose the entire menu (we started with hummus cups and had this pasta dish served with cheesy biscuits), and even offered to deal with the chicken for me.  And I will admit that chicken parm is one meat dish that I used to enjoy. So I got to make a pasta dish that included meat but never had to touch it.  Not a bad deal.

You make your own tomato sauce for this baked chicken parm dish, which I think makes it a lot tastier than using a jar of sauce.  You also cook the pasta right in the sauce with some chicken broth and water.  I will say that you really need to watch the pasta carefully; I doubled the recipe so the pan was really full, and the pasta took a long time to cook (except for the poor souls who got pushed - and burned - to the bottom).  By the time they were all cooked, some of the noodles were a bit mushy.

But besides the mushy pasta, the recipe is a pretty good one.  I obviously baked myself a little bowl of chicken-less pasta (see below!), but my family was happy to have some meat.  It was saucy, cheesy and indulgent.  Not my favorite meal of all time, but it was a pretty big hit with my favorite carnivores.


chicken parmesan baked pasta
from Tracy's Culinary Adventures

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatotes
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups water
1 - 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 ounces pasta shells (12 ounces.... grrrrrr)
2 ounces (about 1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


1) Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

2)  Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses.  Set an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt, and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the chopped tomatoes, the water, 1 cup of the chicken broth, and the pasta to the pan, stirring to combine.  Bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer, then cover the pan and continue simmering (you may need to reduce the heat slightly) until the pasta is tender, about 16-18 minutes.  Stir the pasta frequently as it cooks,

3) Once tender, remove the cover and stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the pepper, and the chicken.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.  If the mixture seems dry, mix in as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of the chicken broth as needed to loosen it up.  If you don't have an oven-safe skillet, transfer the mixture to a baking dish at this point

4)  Sprinkle the top evenly with the mozzarella cheese and add the add the remaining Parmesan cheese. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and bubbled around the edges.  Garnish with the basil, then serve.

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