Friday, February 11, 2011


As-Yet-Unnamed Creamy Chicken Veggie Pasta Bake Thing

There are a few steps to this, and all of them are quick and simple:

1. Cook your chicken (or use leftovers or rotisserie chicken and omit this one)
2. Saute your veggies
3. Make your sauce (this is the most challenging, and it's really not challenging)
4. Cook your pasta
5. Make your topping (if you want to)

So here - joo need thees theens:

2ish cups cooked chicken, chopped or torn into large bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb. dried penne, cooked for about 5-7 minutes or until still quite firm

2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
1/2 red pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 green pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 medium zucchini, sliced in not-too-thin rounds
1/2 medium summer squash (use the fat end), sliced in not-too-thin rounds
4 oz (half a package) mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mornay-ish sauce (yay, skoo recipes!)
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. chopped onion
4 tbsp. flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme (optional.. I like it)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups swiss cheese

Bread topping (optional):
2 cups fresh bread
6 basil leaves
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp. butter, melted

Saute your veggies:
In a large skillet, heat the fat over high heat until it's frighteningly hot. Throw in the red and green pepper; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to char a little (it'll smoke; you'll be fine). Turn heat down to medium and add zucchini, squash, and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute; remove from heat and set aside.

Make the sauce:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook it without browning for about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook another 2-3 minutes (add more flour if you need to; you want the mixture to look like wet sand). Whisk in the milk, bay leaf, and thyme, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, remove the bay leaf, stir in cheese, and season with salt and pepper (make it saltier than you're comfortable with; the salt in the sauce will also season your pasta and veggies).

Toss the veggies, chicken, and pasta with the sauce, and smooth into a 9x13 baking dish.

In a food proessor, grind the bread, basil, and garlic; toss with melted butter, and add salt to taste. Sprinkle over everything (yes, sprinkle it over EVERYTHING. Your dog, your spouse, your wallet. Like fairy dust).

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve with parmesan cheese, because everything's better with parmesan cheese.

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