I’ve never liked the word “casserole”. Even though some of our favorite recipes, like macaroni and cheese, are considered casseroles. I’m not sure why, but I just can’t wrap my mind around it, and “hot dish” doesn’t really do it for me either. Whenever I hear the word “casserole”, images of condensed soup drowned food enters my head.
However, the casserole is actually quite wonderful and so many recipes these days don’t include condensed soup, so I’m trying my best to loosen up and make more. After all, they are marvelous for feeding a crowd, and my family qualifies as a crowd with 3 teenagers, a young adult and two parents.
When I spotted this baked penne with chicken, broccoli and smoked gouda on Mel’s Kitchen (a fellow Wisconsin blogger) and read the ingredient list, I knew it would be something I enjoyed. I adapted it to fit what I had in the kitchen and it was absolutely delicious. I used 1% milk instead of heavy cream, which worked just fine, and substituted smoked gouda for her smoked mozzarella. I’m sure I could have found the smoked mozzarella, considering I live in Wisconsin, but I absolutely love smoked gouda so it was an easy choice.
[amazon_link id=”1933615141″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ][/amazon_link]I also used my homemade crumbs, which are actually a combination of leftover crackers, bread crumbs and corn flakes. I cut the salt in half since my family tends to grab the salt shaker at every meal. The oil packed sun dried tomatoes that I used were already chopped (or rather minced), saving me that step. Lastly, I used fresh thyme since I have an overabundance of it in my herb garden. So I added the thyme to the simmering sauce instead of sauteing it with the garlic. Mel originally adapted this recipe from the cookbook [amazon_link id=”1933615141″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Cook’s Illustrated Cover and Bake[/amazon_link]
This is a wonderful recipe for Sunday dinner. It’s amazing how far a box of pasta can stretch 3 chicken breasts and actually serve 8 hungry mouths. Definitely worth a try, I will be making this again.
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 bunch broccoli florets stalks removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion minced
- 6 medium garlic cloves finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup 1% milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts about 3, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 ounces smoked gouda shredded
- 8 ounce jar oil-packed julienne or chopped sun-dried tomatoes drained
- In a small bowl, toss together the bread crumbs and butter and set aside. Spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 400 F.
- In a large stock pot, bring the water for the pasta to a boil. Stir in one tablespoon salt and the broccoli. Cook the broccoli for 1 minute, it will be bright green. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon to a plate. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
- In a large saute pan heat remaining olive oil over medium flame. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the broth and milk then add the fresh thyme leaves. Simmer, whisking often. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 6-7 minutes. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and smoked gouda.
- Add the prepared penne pasta and broccoli to the sauce; stir to combine (use a separate bowl if you need the room). Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Bake until bubbly and crumbs are golden, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
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