Pasta Bake In a Hurry: Improv in the Kitchen

Cooking in half of a kitchen – meaning one with no sink – is quite a challenge. But I didn’t stop me from making a version of this pasta recipe. Combine that with having to do it in about 45 minutes…with about 1.5″ thick FROZEN chicken. Kitchen challenge is on.

I was planning on making it in the late morning/early afternoon for both Tim and myself… It turned into me whipping it together in under an hour with frozen chicken that I took out this morning before we went shopping for a new refrigerator. This dish would be quicker if your chicken is thawed!

YIKES! Well, when I put my mind to something, I have to do it. I managed to put it together in time to have him take some to work (unbaked… but fully cooked).

I’ll be reheating it for dinner in the oven or under the broiler to get a crunchy top that I want.

I made it sans cheese, because I think sauces get creamy enough with a standard béchamel. Also, I nix heavy creams and full-fat milks and go for the skim option.

If I make this again, I’ll definitely take a little more time with it. So I’ll tell you how I would’ve done it, instead of what actually happened. It tastes great! I tried it when I was packing Tim’s dinner 🙂

Look how cute this attached pair is. PS- like the new countertop? 🙂

Baked Pasta with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
(Serves 6-8)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 pkg. of your favorite short pasta, I used chiocciole
1 bundle of rainbow chard
1 pkg. cremini mushrooms, chopped into chunks
6 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped into ½” pieces
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4-5 c. milk
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. nutmeg (or… pumpkin pie spice – use what you have!)
1 c. grated parm cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a pot, boil water for pasta. Cook pasta until it’s a little more firm than al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts, put into the preheated pan. Cook until brown on both sides, and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes/side depending on the thickness of the chicken).
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Separate the chard leaves from the stems. Chop the stems into ½” pieces. Stack the leaves on top of each other. Cut in half lengthwise, then slice into ribbons.
  6. When the chicken is cooked, place to the side. Add about ¼ cup water to the pan to get up the browned bits. Add in your vegetables and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the chard stems are soft. Add in some salt and pepper.
  7. Meanwhile, slice the chicken into strips, then into chunks (however big you like them).
  8. When the vegetables are completely cooked, put aside with chicken.
  9. Add in the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to the pan. Sprinkle with the ¼ c. flour and mix until combined.
  10. Slowly whisk milk into mixture. Allow the milk to heat up and thicken, stirring constantly. If it doesn’t get thick enough to your liking (think fruit smoothie), add some more flour. Too thick, add some more milk. Now, you can add the nutmeg.
  11. Add in the vegetables, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and pasta. Stir to combine. Top with parm cheese if you’d like.
  12. Place in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the top gets brown.
  13. Cool for about 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Those ridges really hang onto the sauce

Note: Feel free to freeze half of this dish in a baking dish like the recipe suggests. Just cook longer when you want to use it again!

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