Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake is a CROWD PLEASER! I make this dish for so many reasons: for my tennis post-match parties, for making batches to put in the freezer when a family needs a meal delivered, or just to have some freezer ready meals for upcoming busy weeks. This recipe will make 2 full meals for a family of 4. (This is just one of the two meals this recipe makes!).
I love this dish as it can be altered in so many ways to accommodate those with special dietary needs or preferences. Gluten free? Replace the pasta with noodles such as Trade Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli , Trade Joe’s Brown Rice Fusilli or any of your personal favorite GF noodles. Vegetarian? Simple, don’t add the chicken or replace it with your protein rich substitute. Intolerance to store bought taste of Alfredo Sauce? I’ve got you covered on that with this simple and fast homemade Alfredo sauce.
Serving a large crowd? Mix everything together, place in large crockpot, place on low/warm setting until ready to serve at your party.
Putting the Dish Together
Gather noodles, prepared chicken cubes, cheese, spinach, diced tomatoes, sauces (Alfredo and pesto), and milk. I guess if this were a fancy cooking show, this would be your Mise en place!
While your noodles are cooking (and possibly while you are preparing your chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce!), start mixing all the other ingredients in a large bowl or stock pot. Once noodles are drained, add to the mixture. Mix until noodles and chicken are well coated.
When you add chicken and noodles and need to start mixing, you need a seriously large bowl so you can mix without overturning your meal on the counter!
Here is my beloved bowl that was the largest from a Costco set. I placed a large drinking glass to show you the size of the bowl. Unfortunately, after this photo, my bowl tumbled off the counter as it was drying and is no longer with me.
I use a large stock pot to mix everything in with success!
Here is an alternate way I portioned out my meals. 2 larger pans for my family and a gift for a family of ours. My good friend was going back to work full time after working from home with her two young kids. I thought this would be a nice “first day back to work” meal that even dad could pop in the oven for their weeknight family meal. The smaller is a bread loaf that I made for my neighbor. We just take great care of each other and this was my gesture of saying thanks and I’m grateful for her. Mix and match pans to accommodate your meals.
This pan served my family of 4, and there was even left overs for lunches the next day.
Creamy Pesto Pasta Chicken Bake
A crowd pleasing casserole.
- 1 package penne or fusilli noodles
- Cooked and cubed Family Style packaged Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts or one Rotisserie chicken
- 4 cups Shredded Italian Cheese
- 1 can Fire Roasted Diced tomatoes
- 3 cups baby spinach, chopped
- 2 cups Alfredo Sauce (try this homemade)
- 1 cup pesto sauce
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 Parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top
- Cook noodles according to directions.
- If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, prepare chicken with seasonings and cook through. Once cooled, cube into bite sizes. If using store bought Rotisserie, begin trimming meat and cutting into bite sizes.
- Meanwhile, in a very large bowl or stock pot (not on burner), start adding the cheese, diced tomatoes, spinach, Alfredo, pesto sauce and milk.
- Once chicken and noodles are cooked, add to mixture. Mix to coat chicken and noodles.At this time decide how to portion out the meals. This mixture will fill two 8 x 8 baking dishes (foil is perfect for freezing).
- If baking, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350° for 35- 40 minutes.
- If freezing, sprinkle with cheese, cover in foil and freeze up to 3 months.
- TO USE FROM FROZEN: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking. Keep covered and bake for 45 – 50 minutes for 350°.