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July 22, 2009

Everyday : Recipes : Baked Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Chicken & Basil

This pasta is loosely based on the classic combination of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil.  I added roasted chicken, pancetta and baby portabella mushrooms to give it some hearty flavors making it entree worthy.  Baking the pasta with the sauce and cheese makes it gooey and delicious - like mac and cheese 'with the volume turned up' - as the Barefoot Contessa would say.  I love fixing pasta for dinner (as you may have noticed), so the way I keep it healthy is to make sure I have 2/3 vegetables and proteins, and only 1/3 pasta.  This recipe feeds 4-6!

Roasted Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Pasta... with some other things, too.

1 pound of tube pasta (rigatoni, penne, etc.), cooked
1 pound of chicken
2 cups of tomatoes (plum, grape or cherry), cut in half
2 cups of mushrooms (baby portabellas work great), sliced
1/3 pound of pancetta (or bacon), diced
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup of fresh basil, julienned 
3 tablespoons of butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk
salt & pepper

On a sheet pan, place chicken, tomatoes and mushrooms (be sure to keep the chicken separate from the vegetables), and drizzle with olive oil then salt & pepper.  Roast at 425 for 20 minutes, or until chicken is done.  When chicken has slightly cooled (about 5 minutes) cut into chunks.

In a sauce pan, cook bacon on medium high until slightly crispy.  Remove and drain on a paper towel.  Wipe out pan to remove fat, then add butter and melt over medium low heat, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in flour and stir for 1 minute until smooth and slightly browned in color - slightly, don't burn!  Whisk in milk and stir for 2-3 minutes, lower heat.  Congrats - you just made a white sauce.  

In a large bowl, place cooked pasta (should still be hot from the boiling), chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, mozzarella and basil.  Pour white sauce over the mixture and stir.  Place in a casserole dish, or individual crocks.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.  

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