My husband loves pasta bakes (well, he loves pasta in general). And I love how convenient baked pasta dishes are to make-ahead, I love that they freeze extremely well, and I love how they are easy to throw together by just adding whatever ingredients I have on hand. I called this pasta bake recipe Chicken Cacciatore Macaroni and Cheese because it has alot of the ingredients found ina traditional chicken cacciatore (tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and Italian herbs) and gets that rich, braised flavor by being slow-cooked for a few hours in the crockpot. This delicious take on chicken cacciatore would make a great meal all by itself. The flavorful vegetable sauce spooned on top of the chicken would be delicious over some baby spinach or served on top of egg noodles.
But today, I am showing you how to stretch these two chicken breasts into a creamy and flavorful pasta bake meal instead. This recipe either makes a deep, 11 x 13 pan or since it freezes so well, you can divide it between two 8 x 8 square pans. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this idea before – but my family loves it and I hope yours does too 🙂
- 1 lb. chicken breasts
- 4 tomatoes
- 2 bell pepper
- 1 onion
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon Garlic Galore (or any Italian/garlic seasoning blend)
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- fresh cracked pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups milk or half and half
- 1 lb. elbow noodles (I used whole wheat)
- 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, reserve some for the top
- Dice the tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion into about 1-inch pieces. Toss with oil and add them to the crockpot. Lay two chicken breasts on top. Sprinkle the vegetables and the chicken breasts with salt & pepper, garlic seasoning, and parsley. Cook on low for 3 hours or until chicken is done, but not dry.
- Grease a large baking dish (or if you are freezing half, two small, square baking dishes). Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to package directions.While the pasta is cooking, remove the vegetables and chicken from the crockpot. Shred the chicken and mix with the vegetables, all the juices, and 1 cup milk, half & half (or heavy cream!). Drain and add the noodles to the chicken mixture. Mix gently to combine, adding half the shredded cheese then seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Top with more shredded cheese. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until it is hot all the way through and is just starting to crisp up on top.
- Bake and then let cool completely. Cover tightly with a layer of plastic wrap and then foil before freezing. It will stay good for at least 1-2 months.
- To bake from frozen you will preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and cover with foil. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, then remove foil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- To bake from the refrigerator: Thaw the pan in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until hot, then remove foil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.