This cheesy chicken pasta bake will serve 6 kids and is ready in just 40 mins. It’s a great way of getting veg into their diet and you can replace the veg in the recipe with their favourites. The sauce is made from butter, chicken stock, milk and plenty of cheese to give it a creamy finish. This recipe uses chicken breasts but if you want to cut the cost down, use chicken thighs instead. Dust with Parmesan before serving. If you want to make this pasta extra naughty, crush crisps or dried onions on top of the bake before serving for an extra crunch of flavour.
- 2 x 150g (5 z) cooked skinless chicken breasts
- 200g (7oz) broccoli, chopped into florets
- 200g (7oz) short pasta, such as penne or fusilli
- Knob of unsalted butter
- 100g (3½oz) mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1-2tsp dried mixed herbs
- 25g (1oz) plain flour
- 360ml (12 fl.oz) chicken stock with no added salt
- 120ml (4 fl.oz) whole milk
- 60g (2 oz) Gruyère cheese, grated
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 40g (1½oz) fresh breadcrumbs (1 slice of brown bread)
- 2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
Dice the cooked chicken breasts and set aside.
Cook the broccoli in boiling water for 5 mins, then remove the broccoli using a slotted spoon and set aside. Return the water to the boil and cook the pasta for 10-12 mins or according to the directions on the packet. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic and herbs and sauté for 4 mins. Add the flour before gradually adding in the chicken stock and milk, then give it a good stir with a whisk. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins, until thick, stirring from time to time. Add the Gruyère, a pinch of pepper and stir well. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cooked diced chicken.
Grease a casserole dish and put a layer of pasta on the bottom, roughly half. Put half the broccoli on top, followed by half the chicken mixture, then repeat with a second layer of each. Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan and bake for 15 mins, until bubbling and golden brown.
You can use shop-bought chicken stock in this recipe but homemade tastes better, so here's our homemade chicken stock recipe for you.