Pasta Bake

We tried a new recipe this week. I get emails from the Food Network (I'm embarrassingly addicted to that station), and received a recipe this week that sounded easy and good. It's the "Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina" by Giada De Laurentiis.

I made a few minor modifications, and it was really good. I think I might make it a day early next time, because the flavors were even better the second day. I also doubled the recipe so that it would fit in an 13X9" pan.

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta - we used mini bowtie pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

(I also used some garlic salt and oregano when I cooked the chicken to add more flavor - I highly recommend this - the chicken tasted great!!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

The Princess wasn't really a fan - she picked out all the tomatoes, and I'm thinking the fresh parsley may have been a bit strong for her - but DH and I really enjoyed it. And like I said before, it was even better the second day. It's a light, easy dish for summer. If you don't want to heat up the kitchen, it looked pretty tasty in the bowl before I put it in the oven (more like a pasta salad), but then you don't get the breadcrumbs and parmesan, which really helped make it great.

Shayner and Ern  – (July 4, 2009 at 10:27 PM)  

this sounds yummy! but question... what the heck is kosher salt??... I dont cook/bake so this is probably a REALLY stupid question. I am sorry if it is. But yeah, we will need to try this!

esianoyam3  – (July 7, 2009 at 8:42 PM)  

LOL, Erin. It's just a different type of salt - it's bigger than regular table salt - you can get it at the grocery store in the same area you get regular salt.

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