Chicken Pasta Bake – Pasta, chicken and a variety of veggies baked in a creamy tomato sauce with a tasty cheesy topping.
Why Chicken Pasta Bake is a Family-Friendly Dish
- Make-Ahead: This dish can be prepared the night before or earlier in the day to make dinner time a breeze!
- 5 Different Veggies: Although it may not appear to have a lot of veggies, it does actually contain quite a few (onion, bell pepper (capsicum), spinach, tomatoes and peas) Serve with a side of vegetables for an extra nutritional boost!
- Easy to Adapt: This recipe is pretty flexible. Mix up the veggies and miss out the chicken, depending on what you have available or to suit your family’s tastes.
Ingredients (With Alternative Suggestions)
- Pasta: In this recipe, Rigatoni is used but you can use most pasta shapes (e.g penne, fusilli, shells etc)
- Onion: Added for flavour and goes unnoticed in the dish.
- Garlic: Adds flavour
- Dried Oregano: Added for flavour, can be omitted or replaced with dried Italian herb mix or fresh herbs such as basil or parsley.
- Tomato Paste (Puree): Adds depth of flavour
- Canned Chopped Tomatoes: Can be replaced with crushed tomatoes or passata if preferred.
- Chicken Stock: Can replace with vegetable stock. To keep sodium levels down, for young children, use homemade stock. If you don’t have any stock to hand you can replace with a second can of chopped tomatoes.
- Double / Thickened Cream: Adds flavour and texture to the sauce.
- Veggies (Spinach, Bell Pepper, Peas): If you have a family member with a real dislike to any of these vegetables then you can miss them out and add more of the other veggies. Alternatively, try adding grated zucchini (courgette), sauteed sliced mushrooms, small broccoli florets or corn.
- Chicken: This recipe uses shredded chicken. When my children were younger they really didn’t like big chunks of chicken and I got used to using shredded chicken in many meals. You can replace with sauteed chicken chunks or miss it out for a vegetarian option.
- Cheese: A mix of mozzarella and mature cheddar is used for the topping. Mozarella melts really well and has that nice stretch, and isn’t as oily. You can replace the cheddar with other cheeses such as Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Colby, Provolone & Tasty. A little grated parmesan will also add good flavour.
- Seasoning: Taste and season the sauce before assembling the bake. (Do not season if feeding a baby / young child)
Step by Step Instructions and Photos
- Start by cooking the pasta for one minute less than recommended on the pack.
- While the pasta is cooking, get started on the sauce. Saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper (capsicum) to soften and release flavours.
- Add the tomato paste and dried oregano, stir together for a further minute. You can boost the flavour of your dish in a big way by letting the paste “brown” before adding the liquids.
- Add the tomatoes and stock, bring to a gentle bubble and stir through the cream.
- Add the spinach and allow to wilt into the sauce. Taste and season your sauce at this point but be mindful that you will be adding a cheese topping that will add saltiness. (Do not salt if serving to a baby / young child)
- Stir through the shredded chicken, cooked pasta and peas. Transfer to a large baking dish and top with freshly grated cheese. Bake in a preheated oven (190C / 375F) for 20-25 minutes.
Storage & Re-Heating Instructions
- Refrigeration: This chicken pasta bake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- To reheat leftovers you can use a microwave to warm, add a little more cheese on top and then place under the grill (broiler) until topping is bubbly. Alternatively, you can place in the oven (covered in foil) at 190C/375F until hot throughout. You may find that you need to add a couple of tablespoons of stock as during storage the sauce can be absorbed by the pasta.
- Freezing: Assemble and allow to cool. Do not bake, just cover and freeze it.
- Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bake per the recipe.
Other Pasta Dishes You May Like
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Chicken Pasta Bake
- Large Frying Pan (or large saucepan)
- Large Baking Dish
- 400g (14 oz) Dried Rigatoni Pasta
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Garlic, minced
- 1 Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper), finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Tomato Paste (Puree)
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 400g (14oz) Canned Chopped Tomatoes
- 250ml (1 cup) Chicken Stock
- 125ml (½ cup) Double Cream (thickened cream)
- 120g (4.2 oz) Spinach Leaves
- 380g (3 cups) Cooked Shredded Chicken *See notes if you would prefer measurements and cooking instructions for using raw chicken.
- 75g (½ cup) Peas
- 80g (½ cup) Mozzarella, grated
- 80g (½ cup) Cheddar, grated
- Pre-heat oven to 190C/ 375F
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add pasta and cook per packet directions MINUS 1 minute, drain.
- In a large frying pan, or saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the garlic and capsicum (bell pepper) and gently saute until onion is translucent (around 3 mins.) Add the tomato paste and dried oregano and stir for a further minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a gentle bubble. Then stir in the double cream. Add the spinach and continue to stir until the spinach has wilted. Taste and season accordingly. (do not season for babies and young children)
- Add the chicken, cooked pasta and peas. Gently stir to combine and then transfer to a large baking dish.
- Top with the grated mozzarella and cheddar. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The dish should be hot throughout and the cheese golden and bubbly.