For Lent last year, I gave up pasta and during that time, I discovered I could replace my pasta cravings with spaghetti squash. However, every now and then, a penne cannot be substituted and when I came across this recipe, I caved. I found this on Pinterest and slightly adapted to thin it out a little - ignoring the bread crumb and butter topping, replacing the heavy cream with Half & Half, and using whole wheat pasta rather than regular penne noodles. This was a great weekend meal, making plenty of leftovers for a few lunches to begin the week with. I do think I could have used 2 crowns of broccoli, next time, I will include more green in there! Could also try it out and substitute spinach or asparagus spears.
Click here for the nutritional facts calculated at SparkRecipes.com.
- 1 crown broccoli, florets cut small
- 12 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, minced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup Half & Half
- 2 chicken breasts, chopped into small half-inch chunks
- 3 oz smoked-mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 8 oz. jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped
In a pot, throw in your noodles and I typically fill with water until about 1-2 inches above the pasta line, then add a hearty amount of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and cook until al dente, drain and set aside.
In a skillet, add the olive oil and onion to saute over medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and thyme. Saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the flour and whisk in with the olive oil, garlic, onion and thyme, then start pouring in the Half & Half, a little at a time, whisking to help break up clumps before adding more.
Add the chicken chunks and cook until no pink remains in the center.
Add the broccoli florets and sun-dried tomatoes.
Now add about 2/3 of the shredded mozzarella and stir until melted in.
See those noodles you drained and set aside?
Throw them in! Toss well to coat in the sauce.
In a greased baking dish, pour the contents of your skillet in and top with any additional mozzarella cheese.
Bake in the oven for 18 minutes, uncovered. Remove when browned and bubbling.
Scoop and serve! For dinner, this pairs well with a light side salad and a crisp Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc.