A belly-warming two-cheese chicken and broccoli pasta bake

What’s for Dinner?: Light bites are last season and this creamy and cheesy comforting dinner is a breeze to make

Use the same water to blanch the broccoli and cook the pasta

Use the same water to blanch the broccoli and cook the pasta

 

Eoin Sheehan is a chef and food entrepreneur

As the evenings get colder and darker, the summer salads and light bites are not as important to us anymore. What we want is belly warming, comfort dishes to keep us fuelled and warm. This chicken and broccoli bake is the perfect solution, being a creamy and cheesy dinner that is a breeze to make.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

This recipe was a staple in my college days. The ingredients are cheap to buy, very accessible and the prep time is minimum. Play around with the heat and add in some chilli flakes to up the ante of the dish, and of course, add whatever vegetables you have at home that need to be used. Mushrooms, courgettes or spinach work great with this dish too.

What you’ll need

Serves 2-3
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1 tbsp oil
200g broccoli florets
200g penne pasta
½ white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp flour
100ml white wine
150ml stock
50ml cream
100ml milk
Salt and pepper
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
50g grated Parmesan

How to cook it

1 In a frying pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and fry the chopped chicken breasts until browned and cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Don’t clean the pan.

2 In a pot of boiling water, drop in the broccoli florets and blanch for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to an ice bath or cold water to prevent overcooking. Add the penne pasta to the same water and cook according to packet instructions.

3 Add the sliced onion and garlic to the frying pan and gently sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the flour to the pan and stir through.

4 On a medium heat, add the white wine and allow the alcohol to cook off for 1-2 minutes. Pour the stock, milk and cream into the pan, lower the heat to low/medium and allow to thicken and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Season well with pepper and salt.

5 Add the chicken, drained pasta and broccoli to the pan and mix with the creamy sauce. Break up the mozzarella and add to the pan to melt into the sauce.

6 Once it is all mixed through, pour it into a casserole dish and grate some Parmesan cheese over the top. Pop under the grill for 4-5 minutes to get a crispy finish over the top and serve immediately.

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