At my house there can be up to four hungry 6′ tall protein-craving guys who are not satisfied with some of the vegetarian options I’ve tried to bring to the table. To maximize the purchase of boneless, skinless protein-packed chicken breasts the other week I decided to make a big casserole featuring some of my guys’ favorite ingredients: chicken, tomatoes and pasta.
I also had what one lovely blogger hilariously calls “fridge lurkers” to use up: some cottage cheese an oversized bottle of minced garlic (thank you Costco), and some half and half cream. So, I put all the things below together and the hungry guys went back for more. Oh, and so did I.
This recipe made enough to fill two rectangular Pyrex dishes (so guess what’s making an encore presentation for dinner tonight! Woo hoo, Mom’s night off).
You’ll get about 6 to 8 servings from each pan depending how hungry your crew is.
Ingredients for TWO casseroles:
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 5 – 6 cups of diced skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 3 cups of tomato puree
- 3 tbsp. minced garlic
- 8 cups dried penne noodles, cooked and drained
- 1 cup 2% cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup half & half cream
- 2 tightly packed cups (or more) of fresh baby spinach
- 3 cups of grated cheddar cheese
Ingredients for the crumb topping:
- 2 cups grated cheddar
- 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup melted butter
Set oven to 350 degrees f. Lightly grease two oblong baking dishes with butter on the bottoms and sides. Cook 8 cups of dried penne noodles according to package instructions. Drain, cover and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and cook and brown the chopped chicken. Make sure all the chicken is cooked throughout by slicing through larger pieces to check when they are fully cooked. (The oven is just used to finish off the dish’s crusty topping.)
Pour the tomato puree onto the cooked chicken and add the minced garlic, cottage cheese and cream. Simmer on medium until the sauce is hot (about 7 minutes). Add the washed spinach leaves and the 3 cups of grated cheddar cheese and stir to fully mix Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the spinach has wilted.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta and the chicken/tomato sauce mixture. Divide into the two prepared dishes.
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the crumb topping. Sprinkle one-half of the crumb topping on each of the two pasta dishes and place in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the top crust is crisped and golden.
Enjoy! And if you enjoy this blog, consider following it so you’ll be up to date with what’s cooking in my kitchen. Happy Saturday!