Thursday, November 11, 2010

Baked Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

Quick rant:  I have had a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe's for awhile.  Love certain products, low prices, and good expiration dates on dairy products.  Hate how they discontinue my favorite things, are often out of what I need, and have bad expiration dates on bread products.

Lately, the scale is tipping towards strongly dislike.  Today, I had a short list and ran into Trader Joe's while big sister was at her gym class.  They had everything except cilantro.  Cilantro.  I really need it for dinner tonight and now I have to make a whole trip to another store with two little girls for one ingredient.  This time I'm holding a grudge.  So irritating!

Anyways, now that's off my chest and we can move on to baked pasta.  This is really glorified mac & cheese with some protein and green vegetable thrown in for good measure.  I was dreaming up ways to use the vegetable I had on hand and the extra baked chicken breasts from the night before, and this was the result.

I made it in less than a half hour last night.  If you have longer, you could bake it at 400 for an extra 15-20 minutes (before turning on the broiler to really melt the cheese on top) and I bet it would be even better.  It would be more nutritious if you used whole grain / whole wheat pasta.  The kid loved it.

Baked Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli (serves 4)

1/2 - 3/4 pound pasta (medium size - I used rotini but I bet shells or macaroni would be good)
1 chicken breast, cooked, cut into small pieces
1 cup broccoli cut into small florets
1 T butter
2 T flour
2 c. milk
2 c. grated cheese (I used Gruyere, cheddar would work fine)
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to your package directions.  Throw the broccoli in for the last 2 minutes and drain everything together.  While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the flour and stir for about a minute.  Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's slightly thickened (about 4-5 minutes).  Add 1 1/2 c. of the cheese and stir until melted  then add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Toss the cheese sauce with the pasta/broccoli mixture, and the chicken.  Pour into a greased baking dish (I used 8 inch square but any 1 1/2 or 2 qt dish will work).  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese (grated cheese and the parmesan) on top and put it under the broiler in your oven until melty and golden - about 3-4 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn!

Instead of broiling, you could also pop it into a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.


  1. Update: my jalapenos from Trader Joe's were rotten and unusable but my neighbor Steph saw my post and brought me over some cilantro.

  2. i agree exactly about trader joes. one thing i do though is freeze the bread - it is none the worse and i don't worry about expiration