Broccoli, Chicken, Pasta Bake

 

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I’ve had a Martha Stewart Living subscription for as long as I can remember. Each and every month I pore through the magazine and enjoy the perfection that is Martha! Every once in a while, I come across a simple recipe that will work for a dinner party, or in this case a family supper. The following is an adaptation of Martha Stewart’s Chicken and Broccolini Mac and Cheese. I swaped out the broccolini for regular broccoli and went with a penne pasta (a little easier for little hands with little forks). I also added some chicken broth to the poaching liquid to give it a little extra flavor and melted the shredded cheddar into the sauce. This is a wonderful hearty pasta dish sure to please the whole family. You can make it ahead (all the way to when you are ready to bake), let it cool, pop it in the fridge and then bake it when you are ready. Enjoy!

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, large pasta/stock pot, small – medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, large ceramic baking dish (about 3 1/2 – 4 quarts), chef’s knife, cutting board, paring knife, non-stick cooking spray, aluminum foil

Serves: 6

  • 6 chicken breast tenders (about 1 lb)
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 lb box of penne pasta
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 eight oz block cream cheese (cut into cubes)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

For the chicken: Place chicken tenders in pot in a single layer. Cover with broth and milk. Bring to a gentle boil. Immediately, reduce heat to lowest setting. Gently simmer partially covered (lid on but a little askew) until cooked through – about 6 minutes. Remove chicken from the milk/broth mixture and set aside to cool (once cool enough to handle, shred).

Add the cream cheese, 1 cup of shredded cheese and mustard to the milk/broth cooking liquid. Use a whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Tip: You can use leftover chicken breast (or use the breast meat from a roast chicken) and skip the poaching step above. Substitute heavy cream for the milk and simmer 3/4 cup of broth and 3/4 cup of heavy cream, adding the cream cheese, etc. as stated above.

For the pasta & broccoli: Fill the large pot with 4 – 6 quarts of water, add 2 tbs of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Bring to a boil and cook pasta for a quarter of the cooking time (approximately 3 – 4 minutes). Add in the broccoli and cook for and additional three minutes. Drain pasta and broccoli reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Place drained pasta and broccoli back in pot. Add the shredded chicken, sauce, additional 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar and pasta water. Gently mix to combine. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle seasoned panko on top. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray (to keep from sticking the cheesy pasta) and tightly cover dish. Bake for 45 minutes, removing foil for the last 5 minutes and broiling to brown and crisp up top.

To Serve: Place in warmed bowls. Serve immediately.

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