PREP TIME: 15 mins | COOK TIME: 45 mins | TOTAL TIME: 1 hr | SERVINGS: 6 people
This scrumptious cheesy pasta bake with chicken and bacon is a great weeknight dinner option. You can also make this in advance and leftovers are amazing, too!
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 large chicken breasts – cut into bite-size chunks
400 grams dried pasta shapes – I used rigatoni
2 cloves garlic – peeled and minced
1 large onion – peeled and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper – de-seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper – de-seeded and chopped
6 rashers cooked bacon – chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
800 grams tinned chopped tomatoes
120 ml double (heavy) cream
100 grams of fresh baby spinach
100 grams mozzarella – grated
100 grams strong cheddar cheese – grated
Small bunch of parsley – roughly torn
pinch of salt and pepper
How to make Cheesy Pasta Bake With Chicken And Bacon
Step 1: Prepare the oven. Preheat it to 190 degrees C or 375 degrees F.
Step 2: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water for a minute less than al dente. Drain when done.
Step 3: In the meantime, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Then, add the chicken and sear for about 5 minutes. Next, add the onion and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.
Step 4: Into the pan, add the chopped peppers along with the salt, pepper, garlic, tomato puree, oregano, and thyme. Stir and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 5: Add the tinned tomatoes and cream. Stir and bring everything to a gentle bubble before adding in the pasta, spinach, and cooked bacon. Mix well and pour the mixture into a large baking dish. On top, add the cheddar and mozzarella.
Step 6: Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
Step 7: Remove from the oven when done and serve the pasta bake and garnished with some parsley. Enjoy!
To make the pasta in advance, prep the pasta up to the step where you add the cheese on top. Let it cool and tent it with foil.
Keep in the fridge for up to 1 day. An hour before cooking, remove from the fridge. Then, place in a preheated 190 degrees C or 375 degrees F oven and bake for about 10 minutes, covered with foil. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes until heated through. You can add a couple of tablespoons of hot water or stock before baking to make sure the pasta is still saucy.
To freeze after baking, allow the pasta bake to cool completely. Cover and freeze. When ready to serve, defrost in the fridge overnight, then reheat for about 20 to 25 minutes at 190 degrees C or 375 degrees F, covered, until heated through. To make sure the pasta bake is still saucy, add a couple of tablespoons of stock or hot water.
For this recipe, you can use any pasta. I love using rigatoni but you can also use Spiralli (pasta spirals), Penne (tubes cut on the diagonal), Fusilli (pasta twists), and Farfalle (pasta bows). Cooking time would be the same.
For a vegetarian version, you can swap the chicken with chunky pieces of courgette (zucchini) or mushroom. Omit bacon or replace it with vegetarian chorizo or smoky chickpeas (chickpeas fried with smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper). Also, use a vegetarian version of cheddar and mozzarella.
To make this pasta bake gluten-free, replace the pasta with gluten-free pasta and use gluten-free tomato paste. Also, use gluten-free cheese.
Calories: 657 kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 108mg, Sodium: 637mg, Potassium: 911mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 3040IU, Vitamin C: 82.3mg, Calcium: 300mg, Iron: 3.5mg
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