Here's an easy and delicious chicken pasta bake that's perfect for using ripe summer tomatoes and basil from the garden. However, it's easy enough to convert to canned tomatoes for those times when fresh isn't available.
I really love using garden fresh tomatoes and basil in pasta. In fact, one of my "go-to" dinners during the summer is a fresh tomato basil pasta with spaghetti.
However, this combo is also great as a casserole baked with chicken, good mozzarella, and provolone cheeses to make a hearty delicious meal.
So today I'm sharing a chicken and pasta bake using fresh garden tomatoes, fresh basil, sweet onions, garlic, and shredded cheese.
Making a Chicken Pasta Bake
Saute the onions and chicken. Add in the basil, tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Then you add pasta that is just a little under or at least al dente because it will continue to cook in the oven and you don't want to overcook it.
It's a really light sauce so you may need to add some water to the casserole. I usually add a 1/2 cup up to 1 cup of pasta water to keep the dish from getting dry. If you forgot and don't save any pasta water you can simply use chicken broth or tap water.
Mix in the cheeses and don't forget to add some cheese on top to brown at the end for an appealing look and extra goodness.
This dish is covered with foil to keep the heat in and then uncovered for 5 minutes or so to get the top layer of cheese bubbling and golden brown.
Alternatives and Options
Pasta Noodles: Choose a short noodle. One with ridges to hold the sauce
Chicken: You can use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken but if you do add it add the end when you are about to pour the mixture into the baking pan.
Tomatoes: Any fresh tomato, heirloom, plum, or cherry tomatoes will do. In a pinch, you can also use a can of petite diced tomatoes.
Cheeses: I like the combo of mozzarella and provolone however you could mix it up and try different combinations of Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, or Fontinella cheese.
Spices: You can use dried basil but just a bit, maybe 1/2 a teaspoon because it is much stronger than fresh. You can also skip the red pepper flakes if you don't like a little heat.
I have this serving eight portions because you are adding in a nice protein. However, feel free to serve it to more or fewer people as you see fit. And, if you don't make the portions too big they can always come back for seconds.
Chicken Pasta Bake
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 pound of undercooked short noodle pasta such as rigatoni. reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water
- 3 large fresh tomatoes ~ 6 cups diced
- 1/2 cup sweet onion finely diced
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 large garlic cloves grated or crushed
- 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes optional
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 cups provolone cheese shredded
- 1 cup provolone cheese shredded for top
- In a hot large skillet add the extra virgin olive oil and onions.
- Add the chicken, salt, and pepper and saute for 5 minutes, turning the chicken over to brown on all sides.
- Lower to medium heat, add garlic, and stir.
- Next add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and basil and saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 - 1 cup of pasta water.
- Remove from heat and add the cheeses. Mix well.
- Pour into a greased baking dish and sprinkle with reserved provolone cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes remove the foil and broil for 5 minutes to melt and brown the cheese.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts have been made to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.