Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Eat one-Freeze one

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This recipe was another new one for us.  I found it online in a selection of freeze-able dinners.  I will have to say it took a bit more fussing with than I care for BUT when I remind myself that now I have a meal in the freezer that I just have to put in the oven, the extra fussing was all worth it.  Everyone enjoyed the recipe.  We served it with a green salad, apple slices and crescent rolls–oh and some good old Southern Sweet Tea!

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 8 or makes two dishes, each with 4 servings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes (I had a foil container to use for the freezer portion)

Bring a large pot of water to boil and then add:

  • a bit of salt
  • 1 lb of penne rigate

Cook the pasta until just short of al dente (for me this was about 8 minutes).

Drain pasta and return to the pot.

In a large nonstick skillet heat:

  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Place into the skillet and cook until opaque throughout:

  • 8 to 11 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Once the chicken is cooked, slice thinly crosswise making small little bites of chicken.  Set aside.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot melt:

  • 6 Tablespoons of butter

Add to the butter and whisk for one minute:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (leveled)
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (leveled)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

While whisking, gradually add:

  • 6 cups of milk

Add to the milk mixture and then cook for 1 minute:

  • 10 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced (Brad and I both said we would like more of these next time so maybe add 3/4 cup or even a whole cup)

Take off the heat and stir in:

  • 2 cups of Italian mix cheese (The recipe calls for just shredded provolone, but the store didn’t have it so I bought an Italian mix)

Add to the pot:

  • cooked pasta
  • cooked and sliced chicken
  • season with salt and pepper

Divide the pasta mixture between the two prepared baking dishes.

Sprinkle each with:

  • a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

Bake, uncovered,  for about 25 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

To freeze one or both: 

Don’t bake but rather allow the dish to cool and then cover tightly with foil.  I then like to write with sharpie what is in the dish and cooking directions.  I also wrote that this stays fresh for 3 months and wrote today’s date.

When you are ready to bake one from the freezer—prepare ahead 😉  The recipe says to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours.  Then remove the foil and bake until golden, about 15 more minutes (so yes, that is almost 2 hours in the oven….but remember- now all you have to do is whip up a salad and slice up some fruit!).

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