This Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake is a family favorite dish that is easy to whip up and is the perfect make-ahead meal for when you’re short on time.
There is something so comforting about a big dish of pasta that just warms you up on a chilly night. Sometimes you want soup in the middle of winter, but recently, we have been craving pasta!
“Parmigiana” (the Italian word for Parmesan), is also the term for a group of Italian baked dishes made by layering a sliced meat or vegetable with cheese and tomato sauce. The earliest version was made with sliced eggplant, while versions using chicken or veal were probably popularized by Italian immigrants.
The vegetable or meat filling is typically pan fried (often breaded and pan-fried), before being layered with the other ingredients for the dish. Despite the name, mozzarella or Parmesan are both traditional cheeses to use in the dish, depending if you are looking for more of a stringy cheesyness from nicely melted mozzarella or a deeper cheese flavor from an aged Parmesan.
American Chicken Parmisan
In the States, we like all of our ‘Italian’ meals to contain pasta of some sort, so we typically serve the Parmigiana over pasta.
That’s all well and good, I suppose, as long as you don’t think you’re eating traditional Italian fare. If you want traditional Italian, you’ll need to grab a slab of what we would call Eggplant Parmesan and eat it straight up, not worrying that there is no pasta to speak of.
But, for this Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta. Well, there is pasta.
Our Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta Recipe
Instead of cooking the pasta separately from the rest of the dish, we’ve layered the chicken, cheese, and sauce directly over the dry pasta noodles. (No pre-boiling here!)
That means you can throw it all together quickly and simply and bake it right away or throw it in your fridge for later. (Or your freezer for WAY later.)
Now, that’s what we call an easy, one-dish dinner.
Yield: 1 (9x13) baking dish. (Half the recipe to fill an 8x8 baking dish.)
- ½ tsp oil or melted butter
- 1 lb chicken breast, cut into chunks
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, un-drained
- 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
- 1 ½ Tbsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp marjoram
- 2 tsp basil
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 c water
- 2 c chicken broth (we prefer low sodium)
- 1 lb pasta (small shapes like Farfalle), dry
- ¾ c Parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ c whole wheat breadcrumbs
Preheat your oven to 400F.
- Heat oil in a medium sauté pan. Toss chicken chunks with salt and pepper and brown, 3-5 minutes, until the outside is golden. (They will not be cooked through.) Remove from heat.
- In a medium saucepan, mix tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices. Add water and broth, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Place the dry pasta in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle ½ c of Parmesan over the pasta. Pour the sauce over the pasta and cheese. Nestle the browned chicken pieces evenly over the sauce.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, until you start to see bubbles forming around the edges.*
- Remove the dish from the oven and top the pasta with the remaining ¼ c of Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
- Return the dish to the oven and bake, uncovered, 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crumbs are golden.
- Remove the dish from the oven. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
*To make ahead: Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the pasta (roughly 1 hour before you would like to eat), place the covered dish from the fridge into the oven as it preheats to 400?F. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, until the edges are bubbly. Continue with the recipe as directed above.