Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake


Chicken & pasta, topped with a creamy cheese sauce. What’s not to like?

Who doesn’t love a pasta bake? Well, me actually, but my teenage son Will can eat pasta by the bucket load so I knew Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake from Pinch of Nom would be right up his street. Pasta bakes are a genius way of getting children to sample vegetables without them really noticing – in this case it’s sliced leeks and mushrooms, which go brilliantly with the chicken and the creamy, cheesy sauce.

The calorie count for this dish is just over 500, but you can always reduce it by having less pasta. 300g between 4 people is quite a lot and I find that 50g of pasta per person is sufficient. It’s up to you.

If you love this ingredient combination, then I’d urge you to try smashed-up chicken which is one of my all-time favourites, the equally sublime creamy chicken and tarragon pots with rosemary potato wedges or chicken tetrazzini.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake

Calories: 506 per serving

Serves: 4

Book: Pinch of Nom – Quick and Easy

Prep time: Approx 20 mins

Cooking time: Approx 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 400g diced chicken breast
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Henderson’s relish or Worcestershire sauce
  • 200g mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 leek (trimmed and thinly sliced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
  • 400ml chicken stock (2 chicken stock cubes dissolved in 400ml boiling water)
  • 300g pasta twists
  • 120g reduced-fat spreadable cheese
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 80g reduced-fat Cheddar (finely grated)

To accompany (optional):

  • 75g mixed salad (15 calories per serving)

Cost per portion: Approx £1.62

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/gas mark 6).

Spray a large frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and fry the chicken over a high heat for 2 minutes until it is sealed on all sides. Pop on a plate and put to one side.

Lower the heat to medium and add the white wine vinegar and Henderson’s relish to the pan and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Spray a little more low-calorie cooking spray in the pan, and add the mushrooms and leek. Saute for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and stock, then return the chicken to the pan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. This will usually take between 9-12 minutes. Drain.

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, stir in the spreadable cheese. The sauce should be the consistency of single cream. If it is a little thin, increase the heat and reduce for a few minutes until the desired consistency is reached.

Season with a little salt and pepper if needed, then stir in the pasta and pour into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is golden. (You can allow to cool and freeze to have another day. Remember to defrost thoroughly before reheating.)

Serve with a crisp mixed salad, if you like.

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