Easy Chicken & Pasta Casserole

Easy Chicken & Pasta Casserole

This dish began as a bunch of leftovers thrown together, but it turned out so good, it has made its way onto our recipe favorites list.  Originally, we had some leftover pasta sauce.  We just added some additional ingredients and came up with a tasty dish that is easy to prepare and will definitely be a crowd-pleaser at dinner time!

Ingredients:

2 TBSP Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 – 12.5 oz cans Hormel or Valley Fresh chicken breast meat
1 medium size onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 – 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes with rosemary & garlic
1 pkg fresh basil (2-3oz), chopped
1 bag fresh spinach (about 9oz)
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup wine (red or white, your choice)
1 – 15oz container Ricotta cheese
1 lb cheddar cheese (1/2 lb reserved)
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 sm can sliced black olives
1 TBSP Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Asiago/Romano/Parmesan cheese blend
1 lb box of your favorite pasta (Ziti, Macaroni, Rigatoni)

Preparation:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare the pasta according to directions — no need to overcook, as it will cook further in the oven – about 7-10 minutes at boiling is sufficient.  Drain.

2.  While pasta is cooking, saute onions & garlic in olive oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven until onions are transparent and you can smell the garlic flavor being released.

3.  Add fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, mushrooms, basil, canned tomatoes, chicken, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning.  When mixture has thickened somewhat, add the wine.  Add the spinach, and let it cook down.

4.  When mixture is completely hot, transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the ricotta, 1 lb of the cheddar cheese, olives, the drained pasta, and mix well with a wooden spoon.

5.  Pour entire mixture into a 9 X 13 casserole dish.  Add the remaining 1lb of cheddar cheese, sprinkled on top.

7.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until mixture is bubbling slightly.  Remove from oven, (turn on broiler) sprinkle the Asiago/Romano/Parmesan mixture over the top of the cheddar layer, then broil for about 10 minutes, or until cheese topping is a nice golden brown.  Serve hot with french bread.

Makes about 8 servings.  It will keep nicely in the fridge covered with saran wrap, and can also be easily frozen in smaller portions.

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