Dec 17, 2010

Creamy Penne Pesto Bake...

On the calendar of meals Saturday was a recipe from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals and good heavens was it amazing (AND EASY!)

Creamy Penne Pesto Bake
-Serves 4

Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces penne pasta
1-1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
1 (5-ounce) jar pesto sauce
1 (13.75-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
2 (6 ounces each) packets grilled chicken strips
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 2-1/2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 1 minute less than directed on package. Drain and set aside. For creamy pesto, in a medium bowl, stir together Alfredo sauce and pesto sauce and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, toss to combine artichoke hearts, Italian cheese blend, chicken and roasted red peppers. Add cooked pasta and creamy pesto. Using a rubber spatula, fold together until well mixed. Transfer to prepared casserole dish.

4. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and oil and sprinkle over pasta. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Aaron is not a fan (or so he says…yet he eats Spinach and Artichoke Dip) of Artichokes, so I left those out.

I also used chicken breasts from the freezer instead of the packaged kind of chicken strips (like Tyson’s). I cut them into small cubes and cooked them prior to using them in the recipe (even more frugal than the cookbook). We already had pesto sauce in the fridge as well as a jar of roasted red peppers meant for a veggie dip that was never made. As far as "Italian Blend" cheese...I used mozzarella because I already had it when I went grocery shopping and new it needed to be used.

In the words of Aaron---“this tastes like we got it at a restaurant” …so I will take that as a compliment and clue to make it again.  We ate it for dinner that night and then I took some for lunch at school and had the rest yesterday for lunch on my SNOW DAY! :O)

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