Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cheesy Chicken & Bow Tie Pasta Casserole

Chicken Casserole with Pasta
Well, spring sprung and we had beautiful weather to grill outdoors, then Mother Nature decided to shake things up and give us snow. In fact, it's snowing outside while I'm typing this. Winter weather also screams "soup" and "casserole" so I went back to my winter culinary skills and put together a casserole that was colorful, flavorful and kid friendly. OK, maybe not with broccoli in it, but you get the picture.

1 1/2 cups tri-color bow tie pasta
Salt and pepper
4 slices bacon
2 stalks green onion, sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons parsley
1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 cup fresh broccoli florets
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup 1% milk
3 Tablespoons panko
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Place a large pot of water on to boil. Add pasta and cook until just shy of al dente. Rinse, drain and set aside.
In a medium skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel to drain off any excess grease. Remove all but 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat from pan and discard. Since I used a meaty bacon with little fat, there was maybe a teaspoon left when I was done cooking the slices.
Add onions, garlic, parsley and Mrs. Dash and cook until onions are tender and garlic is fragrant.  Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle. Add flour and stir until it has coated the mixture. Add the broccoli and cook until coated.
Add the cooked pasta and slowly add the cheese. Stir until melted. Add the milk and stir until blended and the mix thickens.

Pour mixture into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle top with panko.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until mixture is bubbly. Turn the oven to broil and broil on high for an additional 3 minutes until the panko is golden.
Hubby's response to this one? "You can make this any time you want to." It was a huge hit for him with the bacon flavor combined with moist juicy chicken and of course who doesn't like ooey gooey melty cheese? I thought it was amazing and with the tri-color bow tie and broccoli, it was also as pleasing to the eye as it was to the palette.

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