I know. I'm kind of a baby. It's even colder in other parts of the country, and I should be grateful that I have a warm coat and a job and a heated home. I just need to keep repeating that. And also reminding myself that I WILL live somewhere warmer one day. Cold winters are simply not for me.
You know what does make me feel pretty warm and happy and grateful though, even in such unforgivable weather? This pasta bake. Filled with chicken, oven-roasted broccoli, herbs, and cheese. Topped with fresh mozzarella slices and baked to warm, melt-y perfection.
I made it this past weekend and fell in love with every bite... so much so that I was tempted to gobble up the whole thing in one sitting (with Ryan's help, of course). I'm so thankful that, instead, we enjoyed two hearty portions then froze the rest to have for dinner again tonight. I get to enjoy this baby again! In less than 12 hours! Knowing that, I can brave the bitter outside world today.
Yes, roasting the broccoli before adding it to the casserole is an extra step, but it's totally worth it. And easy. So do it! It adds that nice roast-y flavor to the bake and takes it to another level. And the fresh mozzarella slices on top? Perfection. Yes, you could use shredded mozzarella if it's what you have, but promise me you'll try it with fresh sometime! Cause it's awesome.
I didn't calculate calories or fat for this dish or anything, but it's definitely healthier than it tastes. There's no butter, and greek yogurt replaces more than half of the cream cheese to keep it light but still creamy. By using just a small amount of parmesan IN the dish and single slices of mozzarella on top, we cut down on the amount of cheese while still keeping each serving tasting super decadent. Use whole wheat or fiber-enriched pasta and you have a nutritious dinner filled with protein, healthy carbs and fats, and veggies. Win!
This is one you want to try. Here's how:
Chop about 12 ounces of broccoli into bite-sized florets. Place on a foil-lined baking pan and drizzle with 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil. Toss to mix, then spread out on pan. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Roast broccoli for about 20 minutes at 375, or until the broccoli is starting to brown. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Cook about 2 minutes less than you normally would, so that it is still extra al dente, because it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain. Then, in a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta, roasted broccoli, parmesan cheese, greek yogurt, cream cheese, milk, and spices.
Mix well until it's all incorporated and the ingredients and distributed evenly.
Top with the 6 slices of mozzarella.
Bake uncovered at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and it's starting to brown slightly.
Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, & Mozzarella Pasta Bake
For About 6 Servings
-12 oz. farfalle pasta (or penne; rotini; your choice), whole wheat or fiber-enriched if possible
-12 oz. broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets
-2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken
-1/4 c. parmesan cheese
-3/4 c. greek yogurt
-1/4 c. whipped cream cheese
-1/2 c. milk
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp dry basil
-1/2 tsp dry oregano
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-Fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 round slices
-Preheat oven to 375.
-Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay broccoli down in a heap and pour 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil on top. Mix well, then spread out across the baking pan (be sure not to overcrowd). Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is starting to brown. Remove from oven.
-Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Cook about 2 minutes less than you normally would, so that it is still extra al dente, because it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain.
-In a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta, roasted broccoli, parmesan cheese, greek yogurt, cream cheese, milk, and spices. Mix well until it's all incorporated and the ingredients and distributed evenly.
-Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour the pasta mixture into the dish evenly. Top with the 6 slices of mozzarella.
-Bake uncovered at 375 for about 30 minutes.
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