Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta

Shane and I have both resolved to start eating a little healthier recently. We’re only about two months late to jump on that bandwagon, right? :) For me, I think it’s a seasonal thing as much as anything. I crave rich, hearty comfort food when it’s cold during the winter months, but as spring and warmer weather (hopefully) approaches, I’m ready to lighten the menu up a bit. So don’t be surprised if you start seeing some healthier recipes popping up from time to time around here. No worries, there will still be plenty of baked goods too – we already give most of those away to family and friends anyway!

Don’t you love how I talk about healthier eating and then present you with another comfort food meal? :) This is a good one, and while it’s likely to become more of an occasional splurge around here, it’s definitely worth it!

Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta

This chicken parmesan baked pasta is a quick and easy skillet dinner, pretty much my favorite kind of meal. There’s nothing better than finishing dinner and only having to wash one pan! It has all the components you’d expect from traditional chicken parm so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. That said, I did substitute boneless, skinless chicken in place of the breaded chicken called for by the recipe. We didn’t miss the breading, but by all means, use chicken tenders instead if you think you would. This makes a lot of food, so if you’re a family of two like us, you’re definitely going to have leftovers.

Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta
adapted from Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen via Pink Parsley

1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups water
1 – 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz pasta (I used shells)
2 oz (about 1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 oz (about 1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses. Set an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, the water, 1 cup of the chicken broth, and the pasta to the pan, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer, then cover the pan and continue simmering (you may need to reduce the heat slightly) until the pasta is tender, about 16-18 minutes. Stir the pasta frequently as it cooks.

Once tender, remove the cover and stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the pepper, and the chicken. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary. If the mixture seems dry, mix in as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth as needed to loosen it up (I didn’t add any of it). {Note: if you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, transfer the mixture to a baking dish at this point.} Sprinkle the top evenly with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and bubbles around the edges. Garnish with the basil then serve.