Italian-style “pasta al forno” creamy chicken pasta, baked with spinach and gooey melted cheese. A perfect one-dish dinner for a cozy night in.
This baked pasta 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.
Something wonderful happens when dinner comes out of the oven, especially when it’s an all-in-one kind of deal.
You not only get clued-in that something delicious is going on from the aromas wafting around the kitchen.
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?
Leftover chicken and pasta
Short pasta shapes are best for this dish — anything like shells, 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 chicken is perfect.
For a vegetarian meal, just leave it 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.
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.
Baked Chicken Pasta with Spinach and Fontina Cheese
- 1 pound (450 g) spinach or other leafy greens
- 1/2 pound (225 g) dried short pasta, such as mezze rigatoni or penne
- 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup (140 g) cooked chicken, in bite-sized pieces
- 1/3 cup (35 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup (44 g) shredded Fontina or Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
- Heat oven to 475 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water (5 or 6 quarts) to a boil with 2 teaspoons 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 1-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.