Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pesto-Chicken Penne Casserole

Okay, first of all, this is meant to make two-8x8 size dishes of pasta, so tthat you can eat one and freeze one. This made a TON of pasta! So if you don't want to make that extra one, make sure you cut the recipe in half. This is an awesome recipe though; it's one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had, so it would be great to have that extra pasta to take dinner to someone or for your freezer.

1 pkg. (16 oz.) penne pasta
6 c. cubed cooked chicken
4 c. (16 oz.) shredded Italian cheese blend (I couldn't find the actual "Italian blend", so I used one called "pizza blend")
3 c. fresh baby spinach leaves
1 can (15 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 jar (15 oz.) light Alfredo sauce
1 jar (10 oz.) prepared pesto ---YUM!!
1-1/2 c. 2% milk
1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. olive oil

*Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a very large bowl, combine the chicken, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, pesto and milk. Drain pasta and add to chicken mixture; toss to coat.

*Transfer to two greased 8x8" square baking dishes. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil; sprinkle over casseroles.

*Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.

***To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly.