Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baked Pasta and Chicken Casserole

I made this casserole the other night for dinner! I LOVE anything Pasta.... I got this recipe from my Food network magazine. It was one where you could pick a pasta, a sauce, and mix-ins. I had leftover cooked chicken and some ricotta cheese that I needed to use up. So this is what I did, and it turned out yummo! You can substitute the veggies you use, I had leftover asparagus that I used, but broccoli flourets would be good too. This made quite a large casserole, we ate for two meals with still a little left over. So if you don't need quite so much, you might half the recipe. We loved the leftovers for lunch though. This would be good served with a salad and crispy french bread! Yummo!

Baked Pasta and Chicken Casserole

1 pound of  Rigatoni Pasta (or you could use Penne or Bowtie)
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic, (or 4 cloves, minced)
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2-8ounce cans tomatoe sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons chopped  fresh Basil (Remember, I like to use the pre-chopped stuff in the tube you find at walmart, but you could just chopped about 4 large basil leaves, or a teaspoon of the dried basil)
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
Season with Salt and Pepper (start out with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (I had leftover grilled chicken, or you could use rotisserie chicken)
1 can artichoke hearts
1 handleful size bundle cooked asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces (I had leftover in the fridge)
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper (I buy the roasted pepper in the jar, and use as I need)
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 cups grated mozzerella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta until al dente, or cook 2 to 3 minutes less than the time reccommended on the package (it will finish cooking in the oven). Drain and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. Add the diced tomatoes, and the tomatoe sauce. Rinse the cans with about 1/2 cup water and add to the sauce. Add the basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Simmer the sauce, uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until thickened.
While the sauce is simmering, prepare your veggies. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces, and cut the veggies into bite size pieces, set aside.

After the sauce cooks 15 minutes add in 1 cup ricotta cheese and stir to combine,

Then add the meat and veggies to the sauce, and stir.
Toss in the pasta and 1 1/2 cups grated mozzerella, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. When combined, place in a 3 to 4 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the remaining mozzerella cheese over the top, then the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan. Bake uncovered until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before eating. Enjoy!!

We loved the crispy cheese on the top!! Yumm!!!

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