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Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Bake

Ultimate Comfort Food: Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Bake

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When it comes to comfort food, nothing quite hits the spot like a hearty pasta bake. This Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Bake combines tender chicken, savory marinara sauce, and creamy cheese, all baked to perfection. It’s an ideal dish for a family dinner or a cozy night in. Plus, it’s easy to prepare and packed with flavor. Let’s dive into this delightful recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces (about 340g) penne pasta (or any short pasta shape)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded or cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat Oven and Cook Pasta: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Prepare Chicken and Garlic: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  3. Combine Ingredients: Add the cooked chicken to the skillet, stirring to coat with the garlic oil. Pour in the marinara sauce and heavy cream, stirring until well combined. Season with dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. Add Cheese: Stir in 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese until melted and well incorporated into the sauce.
  5. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, mixing until the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce and chicken.
  6. Transfer to Baking Dish: Pour the pasta mixture into a large baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake: Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the top is golden brown.
  8. Garnish and Serve: Remove from the oven and let the dish cool for a few minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Cook’s Notes:

  • Chicken Options: Use rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken, or quickly pan-fry chicken breasts for this recipe. Any cooked chicken will work well.
  • Cream Options: For a lighter version, substitute the heavy cream with half-and-half or even whole milk.
  • Pasta Alternatives: Any short pasta shape like rigatoni, ziti, or fusilli can be used in place of penne.

Variations:

  • Vegetable Additions: Add vegetables like spinach, bell peppers, or mushrooms to the pasta bake for extra nutrients and flavor.
  • Spicy Kick: Add red pepper flakes or a splash of hot sauce to the sauce for a spicy twist.
  • Herb Swap: Fresh herbs like basil or thyme can replace the dried herbs for a more vibrant flavor.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

  1. Can I make this pasta bake ahead of time? Yes, you can assemble the pasta bake in advance and refrigerate it, covered, for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing it in the oven.
  2. Can I freeze leftovers? Absolutely! Allow the pasta bake to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer-safe dish. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  3. How do I reheat this pasta bake? Reheat in a 350°F (175°C) oven, covered with foil, for about 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. You can also microwave individual portions.
  4. Can I use store-bought marinara sauce? Yes, store-bought marinara sauce works perfectly for this recipe. Choose your favorite brand or make your own if you prefer.

In conclusion, this Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Bake is the epitome of comfort food. Its creamy, cheesy, and savory flavors come together to create a dish that’s sure to please everyone at the table. Whether you’re making it for a family dinner, a potluck, or meal prepping for the week, this pasta bake is a winner. Try it out, and don’t forget to customize it to your liking with the various options and additions mentioned.

Happy cooking and enjoy every delicious bite of this comforting pasta bake!

That’s it for this flavorful and hearty recipe. Bon appétit!

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healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal

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