Cozy, creamy and comforting! This easy chicken and broccoli pasta bake will be your new favorite casserole!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 250g (2 cups) short-cut pasta (rotini, orecchiette)
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup milk*
- pinch each of salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan
- optional: 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled (for topping)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9 x 13″ casserole dish or similar sized dish. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Once warm, add the pieces of chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 6-7 minutes.
- While you’re frying the chicken, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and begin cooking the pasta. When the chicken is done, remove it to a plate and cover it to keep it warm. During the last few minutes of cooking time for the noodles, add the broccoli florets and cook together for a few minutes. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set it aside while you prepare the sauce in the same pan that you used to fry the chicken.
- Melt 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, before adding the garlic and cooking an additional minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute, before slowly pouring in the broth and milk, followed by a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk continuously until bubbly and thick. Remove the pan from heat and stir in 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, until melted.
- Dump the pasta, broccoli and chicken into the pan with the sauce, then pour it all into a greased casserole dish. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and stir in the Panko crumbs. Top the dish with the remaining mozzarella cheese, the parmesan and the buttery Panko crumbs. Bake the casserole for 25 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top. Turn the oven on to broil for the last few minutes of cooking. Serve the casserole immediately, topping it with crispy fried bacon, if desired.
The casserole is best fresh from the oven, but leftovers keep well in an airtight container in the fridge, for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Freezer Meal: The pasta bake can be made for the freezer for later. Prepare everything up until the baking instructions. Allow it to cool completely, cover and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake from frozen at 350 F for 45-55 minutes.
*I use 3.25% milk but skim or 2% will also work. See post text regarding dairy-free milk.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: dinner
- Method: oven bake
- Cuisine: American