Every summer, part of my kids’ bucket list is to make a trip out to my mom’s, a.k.a. Grandma’s, house. When we’re there, we visit the farmers market, play hide-and-seek, eat at our favorite pizza place and explore and wade around in a nearby creek. It’s pretty much a mini-vacation filled with family time and our favorite things to do. Another bonus of going to my mom’s house is that she cooks for us. On our first night there, she fixed this Grilled Chicken Caprese Baked Penne and after cleaning my plate, I knew it was a recipe I would want to make again and again.
This dish is simple, full of fresh, quality ingredients, quick to put together and delicious. It’s made even healthier by using Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne, which is 100% whole wheat and 100% natural. I’m not sure there’s much more to look for in a great recipe.
Start off by cooking ¾ of a box of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until the pasta is just shy of al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce as they bake. This gives them a chance to soak up all of the amazing flavors in this dish which helps disguise some of the whole wheat flavor my kids sometimes scoff at.
Next, combine the pasta sauce, cream, Romano cheese, garlic and red pepper flakes in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat the ingredients over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is creamy, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
Depending on their size, halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. Bite-sized pieces are preferable. Set aside.
Dice the grilled chicken. Set aside.
* Note* I had my husband grill the chicken breasts earlier in the week while he was grilling other things. You can easily grill the chicken as you go, but having it pre-grilled allowed me to put this dish together quickly on a busy weeknight.
Cube the fresh mozzarella and slice the basil leaves into thin ribbons. Set aside.
Put the drained pasta back into the pot and mix in the chicken, tomatoes, half of the mozzarella and ¾ of the basil.
Pour the creamy tomato cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and stir to combine.
Transfer the pasta to a greased 9- to 10-inch baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 375oF oven for about 20-25 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the cheese is golden on top. Serve warm with the remaining fresh basil sprinkled on top.
Every time I fix this Grilled Chicken Caprese Baked Penne the warm, wonderful smell of pasta baking with tomatoes, basil and cheese takes me back to my mom’s house and the good times we have when we’re with her. Not only does this dish bring back great memories, but it also tastes fantastic and is an easy, healthy, weeknight meal to serve my family. The next time you’re looking for feel-good comfort food to fix for friends or family, give this Grilled Chicken Caprese Baked Penne a try. I can almost guarantee the memories will be your only leftovers. Enjoy!
Grilled Chicken Caprese Baked Penne
- 3 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts, grilled and diced
- 9 oz Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Penne
- 2 cups tomato pasta sauce
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup Romano cheese, finely grated
- 1 clove garlic minced
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 24 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water for 7 minutes or until almost al dente. Drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine tomato pasta sauce, heavy cream, Romano cheese, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts and mixture is creamy, about 4 minutes. Set aside. Return drained pasta to cooking pot and add chicken, tomatoes, half of the mozzarella and ¾ of the basil ribbons. Stir to combine. Add tomato cheese sauce to pot and stir until everything is evenly coated. Pour mixture into a 9- to 10-inch greased baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is golden. Serve warm with remaining basil sprinkled on top.
Notes:I used Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
Makes approximately 6-8 servings
Adapted from cookingclassy.com
You can find this and other recipes from Hodgson Mill by visiting the Recipes page.