Now I'm not much into casseroles, just a few, and not a big fan. But this is good. Whole wheat pasta, chicken breasts, fresh crimini mushrooms, olives tossed with a creamy sauce and some extra cheese. Baked and served. After a review, I admit, this is a lighter flavor I admit. This was designed for a friend who doesn't like quite as much spice as me. Two options ... I have made this with 1 1/2 cups or 1 can of green olives to the kalamata which does give a little more salt and flavor. I do use some of the broth as well. Also using whole wheat pasta is a key, and cremini is a key for this recipe. Good parmesan not the green can is again important and fresh basil. This dish really relies on KEY ingredients. But the extra olives will definitely help. But this is a very mild dish with subtle flavors.
- 1 lb whole wheat pasta (penne or similar)
- 3 cups cooked chicken breasts
- 2 large red bell peppers, diced
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms (sliced)
- 1 onion (large and cut in half and then thin sliced)
- 15 ounces kalamata olives (1 can diced fine)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1⁄2 cups parmigiano-reggiano cheese (for the sauce, 1 cup for the garnish)
- 1 1⁄2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1⁄4 cup fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons salt (1 for the pasta, 1 for the vegetables, 1 for the chicken)
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper (1 for the sauce, 1 for the chicken)
- Chicken -- Lets make the chicken. In a large pan add some olive oil 1 tablespoon should be good, salt and pepper and just saute the chicken just a couple of minutes till cooked 1/2 way and golden brown on high heat, but don't over cook. It will continue to bake in the oven. Once the chicken is nice and brown, should take 5-8 minutes remove, set to the side and cover.
- Vegetables -- To that same pan, add a little more olive oil if needed and add the garlic, onion and crimini mushrooms and cook until golden brown and soft but still not all the way cooked. Add some salt and pepper and cook 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl with the chicken and keep covered.
- Bechemel sauce -- Add the butter in a large pot and melt on medium heat. Add the flour and mix well and cook another minute. Add the cream and milk and cook until thick. Add the olives, parmesan and some ground black pepper to taste and set to the side as the pasta finishes cooking.
- Pasta -- According to directions Drain and toss with the bowl that has the chicken and the grilled vegetables. Pour the olive sauce over the top, add the grated cheese and fresh basil and toss well.
- Baking -- Pour in a 13x9 casserole dish sprayed with pam or greased lightly, topped with the 1 cup parm for a garnish, and cook at 375 for 30 minutes uncovered until nice and brown on top and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Very yummy :-) But I felt it was lacking something.. I'm not sure what.. I think next time I'll also add a green bell pepper and a touch more garlic. I garnished mine with some freshly chopped garlic-chives :-).