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May 19, 2011

Penne Pasta Pie | Chicken Tomato Cream Sauce Baked with Fresh Mozzarella

Penne Pasta Pie
Penne Pasta Pie

Pasta is always the solution to a quick and delicious dinner.  We all have so many recipes that can be made in 10 minutes - shrimp linguine, truffle pasta, simple tomato basil sauce with angel hair, shrimp arribiata, chicken with olives and angel hair, etc.  But while they might only take 10 minutes, it is still 10 minutes that you have to spend making a mess in your kitchen, and there is still a pasta pot, saute pan and cutting boards to clean.

When you're having friends over for dinner, I like to make everything ahead of time.  I learned this from my catering days - I would prepare as much as possible 'off-site' to minimize what could go wrong when I was in my Clients' kitchen.  Not only does it minimize potential disasters, it also makes the party more fun for me - I'm not running around the kitchen, there's no dirty pots and pans in the sink, and I can actually participate in the conversation and fun.

So many of us think that having a dinner party means serving something expensive or elaborate.  We've all stressed over steaks that are cook especially for each person... medium rare for some, medium for others, and well done for one of your guests... ugh.  Forget it.  We can all get a great steak at a restaurant.  I like to serve recipes that are simple to prepare, easy to keep hot (or cold), and can be served family style around a table of friends.

That's where baked pastas come in.  Do you ever wonder why you had so many lasagnas at family dinners?  Our Moms, Aunts and Grandmas know a little something about hosting a manageable party that can be survived by the hostess and enjoyed by her guests.  (Right, Aunt Nancy?!)

Keep Reading : Baked Penne Pasta Pie Recipe >>

While lasagna is a surefire winner, I like to experiment a little and make new versions of pastas that will surprise everyone.  This Pasta Pie (get it - baked in a pie dish?) is a mix between everyone's favorite macaroni n'cheese and chicken parmesan : Penne pasta, roasted chicken, fresh basil and mushrooms in a tomato cream sauce, baked with fresh mozzarella and parmesan.  Not only is this delicious but it uses leftovers.  I always have extra tomato basil sauce in our refrigerator - this is a great way to use it up. 

Turn this into a $40 Dinner Party that is really stress-free party and add this make-ahead Blackberry Crumble to your menu.  It can be made the night before and baked while you're having dinner.

Chicken Penne Pasta Pie
serves 4

1 chicken breast
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon dry italian seasoning
2 cups of prepared tomato (spaghetti) sauce (left over or store-bought)
1 cup of heavy cream
3/4 pound of penne pasta (or other tube pasta), cooked
8 oz. of fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.  Place chicken breast on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and italian seasoning.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked.  When the chicken has cooled, cut it into 1-inch cubes.

In the meantime, prepare penne pasta according to the directions on the box, less 2 minutes.  I like to cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than instructions to make sure it doesn't get over done.

In a saute pan, reheat left over or store-bought tomato sauce for 3-5 minutes until bubbly.  Stir in heavy cream.  Cook for 2-4 more minutes, just until it begins to thicken.  Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked pasta, chicken, cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup of cheese for the top), tomato cream sauce, and basil.  Pour into a pie dish and top with cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Let it set for 5 minutes before serving.

Tomato Cream Sauce made with left over spaghetti sauce and heavy cream.

All of the ingredients ready to get stirred together. 

Everything in one bowl.

Mixed together and put into a fun pie dish.

Top with extra mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

More Easy Recipes for $40 Dinner Parties:

Lobster Mac N'Cheese

Host a Breakfast Party!

$40 Dinner Party : Gourmet Pizza Party 


  1. EVERYONE loves baked pasta! What an awesome party idea.

  2. This looks delicious! I am curious when you throw the mushrooms in and whether you bake it at 350 or 400?

  3. Jenny6:37 PM

    Hi Catherine!

    I would saute the mushrooms before, then add them to sauce when the cream goes in. Bake the pasta at 350 for 20 minutes. Good Luck!

  4. My husband (and I) just LOVE this recipe! It's so simple and so flavorful. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Anonymous11:02 PM

    I made this tonight for some friends and it was a hit! I loved having everything done in advance and it turned out perfect. This will be my go to meal for company.

    Thank you for sharing.

  6. Anonymous9:51 PM

    My family (5 kids & hubby) loved this recipe!! Thank you, Jenny!!!


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