It’s been awhile since we’ve done a pasta bake, not since the cheesy hot Italian sausage bake we did awhile back. So today we’ll be a doing a pesto chicken pasta bake! This one is slightly Alfredo-y, like my chicken Alfredo pasta bake but also has a taste of pesto and with less of a cheesy top. Instead, we have cheese in the pasta itself, a six cheese Italian blend all mixed up with the Alfredo sauce. There’s also tomatoes, spinach and chicken to go with it and a generous layer of Italian bread crumbs and Parmesan.
All of the ingredients are store-bought items which makes this super easy to put together. I even used rotisserie chicken here so we didn’t have to pre-cook the chicken. Of course, you can make your own Alfredo sauce and cook your own chicken; grilled, pan-fried, whatever way you want. But the emphasis of the recipe is to get a full family-portioned meal with as little hassle as possible. So let’s begin.
Start by cooking your pasta. You’ll want to cook it till it’s just before al dente since it will cook longer in the oven and you don’t want soggy pasta. So take it off the stove once the pasta has expanded in size but is still a little chewy. After that, drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process.
While you’re cooking the pasta, start cooking or pulling apart the rotisserie chicken. You should get about 3 cups worth of chicken when all is said and done. Mix up the chicken with the cheese blend, spinach, tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, milk and pesto. You’ll need a huge prep bowl for this because the fresh spinach tends to be bulky, or you can do it in the casserole dish itself.
Once the pasta is cooked, drained and rinsed, add to the chicken mix. Mix, mix mix! I found I spent more time carefully mixing it then I did any of the other prep work. Once that’s done, transfer it to a casserole dish and top with the Parmesan, Italian bread crumb and olive oil mix. Then we bake!
It should take about 30 minutes or so, since all the ingredients are already cooked. The baking part is just to marry the flavors together and melt the cheese topping. At this point, you can take the 30 minutes to start a side dish, or finish washing up, or write up this post like me.
And that’s it! Happy eating 🙂Print
- 16 oz. penne/ziti/rigatoni pasta
- 3 cups cooked/rotisserie chicken, cubed
- 2 cups Italian cheese blend, shredded
- 5 oz. fresh/frozen baby spinach
- 1 can (15 oz.) petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 cups Alfredo sauce
- 1 cup milk
- 1 jar (7 oz.) pesto
- 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Cook the pasta until just before al dente
- Drain and rinse pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process
- Combine chicken, cheese blend, spinach, tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, milk and pesto
- Add cooked pasta to the chicken mix and stir to combine
- Transfer pasta mix to a 9×13 casserole dish
- Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil and sprinkle over casserole
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly
Alfredo sauce (2 cups):
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Over medium low heat, melt the butter and pour in the heavy cream. Stir to combine
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Add the Parmesan cheese in portions and stir to mix
Inspired by Taste of Home