Chicken & Tomato No-Boil Pasta Bake

Yes, this pasta casserole doesn’t even require cooked pasta — just dried. It will take you five minutes to prep for the oven — no, we’re not exaggerating!!

This recipe is very flexible; leave out the chicken if you want a vegetarian dish. You can skip the final breadcrumb topping, too, to save time, but you will like the crunchy breadcrumbs. It tops off the casserole very nicely.

When this first comes out of the oven it will be gooey and bubbling — saucy and a bit soupy. As it cools it will firm up and thicken. After a night in the fridge this is a solid pasta casserole, able to be cut in wedges. While straight out of the oven is fantastic, it does make fantastic leftovers too.

chicken tomato no boil pasta

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

8 ounces dried rigatoni pasta, uncooked
2 cups (about 8 ounces) chopped cooked chicken breast meat (omit to make vegetarian)
4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups shredded cheese, such as mozzarella or a mix of mozzarella and provolone
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk (see Recipe Note)

For the cheesy basil topping:
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, and sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish, Dutch oven, or 9×13 casserole pan with olive oil.

2. In a large bowl, mix the dried pasta, chicken, garlic, and tomatoes (with their juices). Stir in the salt and a healthy quantity of black pepper. (If the tomatoes you are using have no salt in them, add an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt.) Stir in the shredded cheese and the Parmesan. Spread this mixture in the prepared baking dish or pot and pour the milk over top.

3. Cover the dish or pot tightly with a lid or a double layer of aluminum foil. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Remove the dish from the oven and turn the oven up to broil.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the herb topping. In a small food processor or chopper, whiz the breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending until the texture resembles wet sand.

5. Slowly remove the lid (or foil) from the casserole dish. Be careful, as steam will billow out. Spread the herbed breadcrumbs over the bubbling pasta and return the uncovered dish to the oven. Broil for 5 minutes or until the topping is toasted and crispy on top.

6. Take the casserole out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Eat with a green salad and a glass of red wine.

Recipes Notes:
Milk: The more fat in your milk, the thicker and more luxurious this dish will be. I have only made this with whole milk, which worked very well. I see no reason why lower-fat milks would not work as well, but they may be soupier, with a thinner sauce, when you first remove them from the oven.

recipe and photo credit: thekitchn.com

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