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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Meatball Pasta Bake

Chicken Meatball Pasta Bake

This is a great (though a little time consuming unless you use the shortcuts) family meal.  We all love it and my husband especially likes the leftovers!

I used the shortcuts today because we have yet another tennis match that is far from home.  But, my husband is not going, so I am making this ahead of time and he will put it in the oven, he's really good at that!

Chicken Meatball Pasta Bake

1lb ground chicken                                                      
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup panko                                                              
1 (16oz) box rigatoni, cooked & kept warm
1/4 cup mined green onion                                            
1 (8oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup minced red pepper                                          
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg                                                                  
Zesty Tomato Sauce (see recipe at the end)
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                
1 (8oz) pkg. shredded mozzarella
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley                                      
1 (5oz) pkg. grated Parmesan
1 tsp. Italian seasoning                                                
Garnish:  fresh parsley

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Place a cooking rack over the pan. Spray rack with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine chicken, panko, green onion, bell pepper, egg, garlic, parsley, Italian Seasoning, and salt.  Shape mixture into golf ball-size balls; place on prepared cooling rack.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned.  

  • Lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  • In a large bowl, combine hot pasta, cream cheese and sour cream, stirring to combine.  Spoon half of the mixture into prepared baking dish.  Top evenly with half of meatballs.  Spoon half of the tomato sauce over meatballs.  Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.  Repeat with the remaining noodles, meatballs and sauce.  Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Garnish with parsley.  Serve immediately.

*This may be made one day ahead.  It can also be prepared and frozen for up to one month.  Thaw in refrigerator before baking.

*Use jarred pasta sauce and add herbs for a time saver.  Also, cook pasta ahead of time by cooking according to package directions, drain, toss in olive oil and store in a zipper bag.  Reheat in microwave on HIGH 1-3 minutes.

Zesty Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp vegetable oil                                                          
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 cup chopped onion                                                        
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced                                                      
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes                                        
1 tsp sugar
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce                                              
1 tsp salt

  • In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, parsley, Italian seasoning, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  • Sauce can be made ahead and reheated before serving.  Can freeze for up to one month!

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