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Italian-style “pasta al forno” is a creamy chicken casserole with pasta, baked with spinach and gooey melted cheese. A perfect one-dish dinner for a cozy night in.
This chicken pasta casserole makes a rich and satisfying one-dish dinner, with all sorts of creamy, cheesy, chickeny things going on.
Oh — and there’s some dark, leafy spinach in there to round it out. Just what you want on a chilly, busy night and you need to get your greens on!
I’ve always loved that something wonderful happens when dinner comes out of the oven, especially when it’s an all-in-one kind of meal.
Not only do you smell a delicious aroma wafting around the kitchen.
But once you lift the baking dish out of the oven you’re rewarded with the sight and sound of hot, bubbling cream and melting cheese.
It’s hard not to love that, right?!
Precooked chicken and dried pasta in chicken casserole
Short pasta shapes are best for this dish. That means anything like shell pasta, penne, farfalle or rigatoni would be great for catching all the sauce in the nooks and crannies.
You’ll need about a cup of cooked chicken (leftover roasted chicken is perfect).
For a vegetarian meal, just leave the chicken out.
Use shredded leftover roast chicken (this is my basic go-to recipe) or you can make the process even easier with shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken.
Once you combine your parbolied pasta, chicken and sauce ingredients, pop the dish into the oven and bake 12-15 minutes at 475 degrees.
This deliciously satisfying dish is great for either a hungry couple or four people, with a salad on the side.
Double up the recipe for a larger crowd, using one pound of pasta and two shallow baking dishes or one 2-quart oval baking dish.
Cheesy Pasta and Chicken Casserole with Spinach
- 1 pound (450 g) spinach or other leafy greens
- ½ pound (225 g) dried short pasta, such as mezze rigatoni or penne
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) chopped garlic
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup (140 g) cooked chicken, in bite-sized pieces
- ⅓ cup (55 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup (44 g) shredded Fontina, Monterey Jack or Havarti cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
- Heat oven to 475 (245 C) degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water (5 or 6 quarts) to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt.
- Drop spinach into the water and cook 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander and drain. Put the spinach in a clean kitchen towel (careful, it’s hot), roll it up and squeeze over the sink to remove as much water as you can. Chop the spinach.
- Parboil the pasta in the boiling water until halfway cooked, 7-10 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the pasta. Drain.
- Stir together cream, garlic, salt, pepper, chicken, spinach and the cheeses in a large bowl. Add drained pasta and mix together.
- Smear the butter over a 2-quart gratin or baking dish. Transfer pasta mixture to the gratin dish.
- Bake 12 minutes or so, until the cream is bubbling and edges of the pasta begin to brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
- This is a perfect dinner for either a hungry couple or 4 people with a salad on the side. Double up the recipe for a larger crowd, using 2 gratins or one 2-quart baking dish.
- Leftover roast chicken is ideal for this cheesy baked pasta recipe, or omit the chicken for a vegetarian main dish.
- Alternatively, you can roast a large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast half for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Cool and shred the meat.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.