When I anticipate a busy week I try and cook a lot of food on Sunday afternoon thereby allowing us to eat leftovers throughout the week and avoid ordering in. Last week, I prepped a batch of this pasta chicken casserole on Sunday and then baked it after arriving home late Monday for a quick hot dinner with only one pot to wash and almost zero time spent in the kitchen.
Although this recipe isn’t quick in itself – since the chicken is braised – it doesn’t take that much actual working time and is easy to do while you are already in the kitchen. Either use fresh pesto if you have some handy, or pick up a jar of pesto from the store. Don’t like goat cheese? Try cream cheese.
Baked Chicken Penne with Pesto and Chevre(serves 4)
Heat the olive oil to medium heat in a small dutch oven. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides. Remove to a small bowl and add the onion. Reduce heat to medium low and sweat the onion until soft, stirring regularly. Add the wine and bring the heat back to medium. Simmer until wine is reduce by half. Add the chicken, with any juices, back to the pot along with the water. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to braise for 40 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and cook the pasta until it is al dente. Quickly drain and run under ice cold water until cooled. Set aside.
After 40 minutes, remove chicken to cutting board and roughly chop. Pour juices into a measuring cup. Allow to sit for 5 minutes and then spoon the fat back into the pot. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk in the four. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, whisking. Whisk the liquid back in and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the pesto and half of the goat cheese. Once melted and combined add in the chicken and the cherry tomatoes. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary.
(Make ahead : Cool the sauce and pasta separately, toss together in an oven safe casserole along with the remaining goat cheese and refrigerate. Place in a cold oven, turn the heat on to 350F and bake for 35 minutes.)
Toss with the pasta and pour into a casserole dish. Crumble the remaining cheese through it and stir. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot.