An Italian restaurant we go to a lot (well, went to before we had kids!) does a gorgeous dish called penne pollo which is basically just pasta baked in the oven in a creamy sauce with pan fried chicken, onions, courgettes and spinach. They then top it with cheese and bake it in the oven. Its so delicious but sometimes a little dry so I had to try and recreate it at home and modify the recipe so it didn’t dry out when baked.
Instead of using pan fried chicken for the dish in the picture I used a few chopped up herby chicken goujons we had from the night before and it was yummy! Recipe serves 4.
2 chicken breasts
320g penne pasta (or other pasta you like)
250ml double cream
100g cheddar cheese
4 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
Vegetable or chicken stock cube
2 good handfuls of spinach
1 small courgette
1 small or half a large onion
2 garlic cloves
1) Put the kettle on to boil for your pasta.
2) Chop your onion, garlic and courgette finely and put to one side.
3) Chop your chicken breasts into bite size strips.
4) Put your pasta in a pan of salty boiling water and cook for 10 to 12 mons (or according to packet instructions of different).
5) While the pasta is cooking add a good glug of olive oil to a small saucepan or frying pan. Heat over a medium to high heat .
6) Add the onion and garlic and fry for 3-4 mins.
7) Add the chicken, courgettes and the stock cube and continue to fry until the veg is soft and the chicken is fully cooked. Approx 5-7 mins. If your pan starts to go dry and things start to stick just add a glug of water from the pasta to loosen it up.
8) 2 minutes before the pasta is cooked add 2 handfuls of spinach to the pasta pan. Stir it in until it has all wilted.
9) When the pasta and spinach are cooked drain and put to one side.
10) Pour the cream over the chicken and veg and stir over a medium heat.
11) Add some of your cheddar cheese (just save enough to sprinkle over the top before baking at the end) and 4 teaspoons of grated parmesan.
12) Keep stirring over a medium heat until the sauce is hot and the cheese has melted into it. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thick or you prefer more saucy pasta just add extra cream or milk.
13) Combine the sauce and pasta and pop into a casserole dish.
14) Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bake for 5-10 mins or until the top is melted and golden.
- Replace the cheeses stated with anything you have to hand. If you have some it is delicious topped with mozzerella.
- Add some chopped bacon for some extra meat.
- Remove the chicken entirely for a vegetarian dish.