I found myself with no protein thawed out, so I tried to think of things to make with shredded chicken (since it is so easy to do, from frozen, in the instant pot!). And, I do love a casserole – so this is what I came up with!
I decided I wanted to use pasta – I chose penne (but, any pasta would do). I also had an unused container of ricotta cheese on hand, some mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
I decided to boil my pasta separate. I boiled it to al dente. Be sure not to overboil it, or it will be too chewy in the casserole. While the pasta was boiling, I started to work on the sauce (I guess that is the appropriate term when you’re going to add it to something and make a casserole? I will call it that). I started by grating 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
Then I cooked some garlic in a large skillet, with a little bit of butter.
Once the garlic was done, I added in a little bit of water and the milk. I only had skim milk on hand, but certainly, this would be so much better with a whole milk or even a bit of heavy cream! I brought the liquids up to a boil. I added in my seasonings at this time.
I then started adding in the cheeses. I started with the ricotta first and let it get mostly melted. I then added in the mozzarella and parmesan. I brought the cheese sauce up to a boil.
I then added in the shredded chicken and stirred through.
In a greased dutch oven, I poured in the al dente pasta.
Then I poured the sauce over top and stirred everything together. ** Note, I had forgotten to add my spinach to the sauce, so I just stirred it in at this point.
I, then, topped it with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese, as well as the panko bread crumbs.
The casserole was cooked in a 400 degree oven (I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my oven tends to run a little cooler – that said, feel free to drop the temperature if 400 seems a little high) for 30 minutes. I did turn the broiler on for a couple min, at the end just to brown the top a little more.
Three Cheese Chicken and Pasta Bake
1 box pasta of choice
2 chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup water or chicken stock
2 cups milk
1- 15 oz container of Ricotta cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella (reserve 1 cup)
1 cup grated parmesan (reserve 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp garlic
1/2 tbsp butter
4 cups fresh spinach
1/2 to 1 tsp salt, depending on your tastes
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs