Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chicken Pasta Bake

Part I from the "Cleaning out the cupboards so we can move to Italy" series

As much as we would like to take everything we own with us wherever it is we may be headed, this simply is not a feasible option. Over the past two or three years, we have invested some effort into our culinary collection: spices, pastas, legumes, cereal, spices, chicken, flour, oils and did I mention spices (like over-flowing shelves full of them)? If anyone is interested in taking a pound of corriander seeds off my hands, please do - I'll throw in some star anise, cinnamon sticks and cardamom, too!

So anyway, these next few posts will reflect my attempts to create enticing (or at least entertaining) edible entrées from our expansive collection of extras. Buon appetito! (Disclaimer: these recipes have not been endorsed by the Italian people in any way, shape or form. Unneccessary Italian may be used from time to time. Proceed at your own risk.)

This recipe is part casserole, part cheese plate, but mostly a hastily thrown together trough of Italian-ish ingredients. Becky being the cheese connoisseur she is, likes to keep our fridge full of assorted families of formaggio. Unfortunately, we often forget about what we have in stock and the wedges grow into unsightly furry beasties to spite us. If you suffer from the same situation (and if you savor soft and semi-soft slices from select four-legged milk producers like sheep, um...shcows and sgoats? sh--, starting to see the shortcomings of selected sentence structure) this dish is a good way to clean out the cheese shelf before restocking.

  • Cherry tomatoes, generous handful or two
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3/4 lb. pasta (penne or rotini are my preference)
  • Few basil leaves
  • ~3 oz chèvre
  • ~4 oz fresh mozzarella in brine
  • ~3 oz fresh feta
  • ~4 oz ricotta
  • Parmesan or Romano, finely shredded

  1. Begin by roasting the tomatoes and garlic. I would suggest tossing the tomatoes with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper and spreading in a small pan or baking dish. For the garlic, peel it and place it in a piece of tinfoil with extra virgin olive oil and black pepper. Close the tinfoil up around the garlic and twist the top closed, forming a little tinfoil bag. I usually roast this stuff in our toaster oven since it doesn't take up much room.
  2. While the tomatoes and garlic are roasting, boil the pasta to al dente and sautée the chicken pieces until cooked through
  3. Chiffonade the basil
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta, cooked chicken, garlic (put the garlic through a press first) and 3/4 of the basil
  5. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the chèvre, mozzarrella, feta and ricotta cheeses and mix together with a fork
  6. Add the cheese mixture to the pasta mix in the large bowl and stir together
  7. Spread out the mix into a baking dish
  8. Sprinkle the remaining basil, tomatoes and parmesan/romano cheese over the casserole
  9. Bake in the oven for ~10 minutes or so until the cheeses are gooey

1 comment:

  1. Made a variation of this last night. It turned out pretty well, but it was a little dry. Next time I make it I'll try to find some sort of sauce to make (white or red).