This chicken pasta bake will become a go to dish. It’s easy, fairly healthy, kid friendly, minimally processed. You know that Spinach Tiger is always looking out for you, especially you moms and dads who are trying to bring your family satisfying comfort food without spending hours in the kitchen. I hear you.
Before I even tell you about how comforting and delicious gooey, cheesy dish is, I have to give a shout out to gluten free Ronzoni pasta.
This is NOT a sponsored post. This is me telling you that I have tried about ten brands this year and while most are pretty good, or “not bad” we loved Ronzoni’s penne pasta best for this pasta chicken bake recipe.
Spinach Tiger is Italian and doesn’t enjoy compromising. The test to the pasta is how well it heats up the next day. Usually, gluten free pasta is pretty yuck reheated and penne especially will fall apart. Unlike most other gluten free pastas, Ronzoni® Gluten Free is made from a unique 4 grain blend: white rice, brown rice, corn and quinoa. I remember the days of brown rice pasta which was gummy and unattractive. We’ve tried corn-based pasta which tends to crumble. Ronzoni’s four-grain blend seems to take care of some of these previous issues, and is, so far, the best wheat based pasta we have tried.
Ronzoni’s penne did not fall apart. It reheated the way we like it, softening up against those three cheeses. My mother, Retro Rose, who is full-blooded first generation Italian, and she especially doesn’t eat anything gluten free. Mr. Spinach Tiger ate it for lunch and double helping for dinner. The Cooking Process for Pasta Chicken Bake Recipe
I cubed boneless chicken breasts, and sauteèd them first in some olive oil. You could use left over chicken, or frozen chicken strips, that’s up to you.
The pasta bake takes only about twenty minutes in the oven, and this entire dish was done in about 40 minutes. You could use a jarred sauce, but I encourage you to follow my instructions for the sauce.
I took one large can of San Marzano Tomatoes, and sauteed on high in a frying pan until it was very reduced down (almost like a paste, but not quite). The idea of the sauce in this recipe is that less is more. This is not baked ziti or lasagna. The tomatoes are more of an accent ingredient, but very important.
The stars of this show are the three cheeses, and each cheese is important to the balance of this dish. The pecorino romano gives the dish it’s oomph, because it’s salty and tangy. The mozzarella holds everything together and the ricotta cheese brings the creaminess. I use Galbani Ricotta because it’s rich and has a low water content.
Once the chicken is cooked, (with a little onion and garlic), the tomatoes are reduced and the pasta is near cooked, you can assemble. First, toss the pasta, chicken with a generous full cup of freshly grated pecorino. Then you will add in half of the mozzarella, raw spinach, tomatoes and toss again. The ricotta is spooned here and there and more mozzarella tops the dish.
There are other options for this three cheese pasta bake.
You can use mini meatballs, crumbled meatballs, ground beef, ground pork, crumbled Italian sausage, or even left over roast instead of chicken. This is a wonderful way to use your leftovers.
This dish will disappear quickly. We were quite surprised how well the Ronzoni Pasta faired heated up.
You may also like these chicken pasta recipes from Spinach Tiger.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
- 1 can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped,
- 1 pound pasta
- 2 cups mozzarella
- 1 cup pecorino romano
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 handful spinach leaves or more if you prefer
- Cut chicken breasts into cubes. You may wish to pound them thinner if they are very thick.
- Heat oil in frying pan. Saute, onions until softened. Add garlic for one minute. Do not burn.
- Saute chicken, on both sides. You may need to do this in two sessions, so as not to crowd.
- Remove chicken and set aside.
- Add can of tomatoes to the pan, reserving some of the juice for a different use.
- Reduce tomatoes down to an almost thick tomato puree. This will take about twenty minutes.
- In the meantime, cook pasta according to directions, minus a few minutes, as pasta will continue to bake in oven.
- Once pasta is complete, drain and toss with grated pecorino romano.
- Put into a large baking dish, toss with tomatoes, spinach and half of the mozzarella, keeping enough to top the dish.
- Spoon ricotta cheese just here and there.
- Top with mozzarella.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes or until all the cheese is melted on top.
- Serve immediately.