Broccoli & Chicken Alfredo Bake ~ tender chunks of chicken are nestled in a bed of penne pasta and crisp broccoli with a creamy lemon Parmesan sauce.
Weeknight dinners don’t have to be sad and boring, and don’t let the word “Alfredo” scare you off! This is easy-peasy comfort food at it’s best. Our recipe is made without cream but is still rich and satisfying. We used evaporated milk for the white sauce and pre-poached chicken breasts to cut the prep time to about 30 minutes. This filling casserole bakes up in about 15 minutes and booyah! dinner is done.
The chicken is very tender and the broccoli is still a little crisp, and not at all overcooked. Each bite is delightful! Sometimes I use grocery store rotisserie chicken for soups and casseroles, but I really prefer to make my favorite Poached Chicken early in the week, then I have chicken ready for all our favorite weeknight recipes. You can poach chicken in broth, wine, or even water. Just flavor the poaching liquid with peppercorns and sprigs of your favorite fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary or tarragon. It poaches for about 15 minutes, then you’re done! Allow the chicken to cool then slice or shred as needed.
I love the lemony bite in this casserole. And be sure to season with plenty of black pepper, it makes all the difference in the end result. All these ingredients are fairly mild in flavor so the casserole must be well seasoned to achieve the best flavor. And leftovers warm beautifully in the microwave so package them up for your hubby to take to work!
Want to skinny up this casserole? Use whole wheat pasta for extra fiber and skim milk in place of the evaporated milk, then top with whole wheat Panko bread crumbs. That makes this Broccoli & Chicken Alfredo Bake a little more diet friendly – and still delicious!
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- 6 ounces penne pasta, about 1 3/4 cups dry pasta
- 3 cups broccoli florets (bite size pieces)
- 1 pound pre-cooked chicken cut into bite sized pieces (about 3 chicken breasts)
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk (or regular milk)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon flavored salt like Accent (or regular salt is fine)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- rind of 1/2 a lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (loosely packed)
- 1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
- Black pepper for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Add the broccoli and boil for 3 minutes more. Drain well. Return the pasta and broccoli to the now empty pot, add the sliced chicken and set aside.
- In a small bowl with a spout, whisk together the evaporated milk, milk, flour, half the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Pour the olive oil in a medium saucepan and heat on medium until shimmering. Add the chopped shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon rind and lemon juice; cook for another 30 seconds. Add the milk mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Pour the white sauce over the pasta, chicken and broccoli and gently fold together to combine.
- Lightly coat a 2.5 to 3-quart glass or ceramic baking dish with vegetable spray. Spoon the pasta mixture into the dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top, then the mozzarella and panko bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Baked pasta dishes are a great weeknight choice, sort of an all in one to make everybody happy. Love this cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake from Inside BruCrew Life and this Easy Baked Penne from Crazy for Crust. And check out this beautiful Baked Pasta with Spinach & Ricotta from Two Peas & Their Pod, yum! For a hearty meal, try this Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage from Brown Eyed Baker. If you’re looking for a great way to have pre-cooked chicken in your fridge all week, check out this wonderful post about How to Make Crockpot Chicken Breast from Fifteen Spatulas.
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