A Squared: Using Up Leftovers: Roasted Chicken Parm Pasta Bake

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Using Up Leftovers: Roasted Chicken Parm Pasta Bake

Nothing makes me feel worse in the kitchen than throwing away food. I grew up hearing "waste not, want not" in my house and it's definitely a saying that has stayed with me. It resonates even more now that I pay for my own food. Do you ever have that feeling that you're throwing cash into the garbage can when you're dumping old food?

That said, I really hate eating leftovers. Chicken always tastes rubbery when you microwave it and there are other things like soft vegetables, eggs, or fish that really just don't keep or reheat well at all so I try to be really conscious about portioning those items out when I cook them and also to plan our weekly meals out ahead of time to avoid overbuying fresh foods in the first place.

Sometimes having a lot of leftover food is unavoidable though-- like when you're roasting a whole chicken for two people. Keeping this in mind when planning our weekly menu though, I came up with a totally different way to use up that leftover chicken in a way that didn't feel boring, played out, or microwaved rubbery. I put a spin on a traditional chicken parmesan and created a one dish pasta bake incorporating the chicken and also some spinach to up the health factor. My husband and I both loved it-- it was a great cold night comfort dinner and actually pretty quick and easy since the chicken was pre-cooked. And knowing that I used that chicken instead of throwing it away made it taste even better!



Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups short cut pasta, cooked and drained *I used Barilla White Fiber Mini Shells
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, chopped *I used the leftover white meat from the sun-dried tomato roasted chicken
  • 5-6 oz. baby spinach leaves (depending on how much you like), stems removed and chopped
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup low part skim mozzarella, shredded and divided
  • 3 Tbs. panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over the bottom of a 9x9-in. baking dish.

Combine remaining marinara sauce, pasta, chicken, spinach, basil, parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella in a large bowl.  Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and breadcrumbs evenly over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow the dish to set for a few minutes before serving.

Makes about 4 servings.

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