Alfredo Chicken, Spinach and Penne {al forno}

Gayle McLeod | May 15, 2016

Baked pasta {pasta al forno} is easy, family food at it's best. This recipe is actually more of an enthusiastic serving idea, rather than a definitive and detailed recipe.

The best thing about this meal, besides it's effortlessness, is that you can utilize  whatever you have on hand to create a tasty and satisfying meal in 30 minutes, or less. In fact, I was prompted to make this on the same day I cleaned out our fridge.  Fun stuff, I know. I discovered some less-than-perky baby spinach, a jar of roasted red peppers hanging out in the back of the fridge, and some chicken breasts that were either getting cooked, or heading for a deep sleep in the freezer. The only part of this recipe that's non-negotiable is using a large skillet.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb dried penne pasta, or try another short pasta like rigatoni

1 tbsp olive oil

1.5 lbs chicken - I used 3 chicken breasts - cut into bite sized pieces (or already cooked chicken)

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1/2 large onion, thinly sliced, or diced

3 cloves garlic, minced 

3 large handfuls of baby spinach or kale (the only way I know how to accurately measure baby greens is by the fistful)

splash of dry white wine (optional)

1 container of Alfredo Sauce, thawed

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped

3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

freshly Italian parsley

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat a large/deep oven-proof skillet (mine is 14" diameter) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and chicken to the skillet, season well with salt & pepper. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. Keep in mind, you can skip this step completely by using leftover roasted chicken. 

Add the sliced onions and minced garlic to the same skillet and sauté until the onions are softened. Add the spinach to the pan then the splash of white and stir until wilted. 

Push the cooked spinach to one side of the pan and add the Alfredo sauce. Whisk well over medium heat until the sauce is smooth and starting to simmer. Add the roasted red peppers, cooked chicken, and as much penne as you like to the pan. I start with half the amount of pasta, then add more if needed. Stir to combine all the ingredients and  sprinkle with both shredded cheeses.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 10-15mins until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is turning a golden brown. Broil for the last few minutes if you like it well done, like us.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped parsley or basil. Serve with a simple green salad, dressed with a bright vinaigrette.

Enjoy!

 

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