Thyme Chicken Pasta Bake with Mushrooms and Fennel

Pasta bake. I think it sounds a little bit more dignified than just a “casserole”. Not that there is anything wrong with a good casserole, they have just gotten a bad rap through the years. I don’t know if it’s because of the less than fresh contents inside of the casserole or just the thought of making it for one dinner and having leftovers for days. Growing up, my mom made a simple casserole we always looked forward to. It was mini pasta shells, canned tuna, a dash of cayenne pepper, and the liquid gold itself, velveeta cheese. I loved the spiciness and comfort of the dish. I also long for the days where the taste of velveeta overrides the guilt of eating something that isn’t actual cheese. Casseroles are great for the colder months but also great for families on the run. I’m all about the Make Once Get Two out of the deal meals where you make one for dinner and freeze the other. Just pop it in the oven whenever you get the hankering for a cozy but quick meal. Now, doesn’t that sound better?

Instead of opening a can of this, a container of that, and dumping it into a pan to be baked, I opted for a fresher take here. This pasta bake is inspired by one of our favorite dishes in Colonial Williamsburg. It consists of crepes stuffed with chicken and mushrooms and baked in a creamy sauce. It’s the perfect cure after a long and cold day of walking the cobblestone streets. Instead of making crepes, I substituted with pasta. I also added some licoricey (not a word, sorry!) fennel that sweetens as it cooks. Thyme makes everything a little bit better with it’s lemony yet slightly smokey flavor. It’s perfect for the cold months ahead and even more perfect with a glass of your favorite white wine!

The ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Parmesan, garlic, shredded chicken (don’t get me started on my rotisserie chicken rant, it’s a life saver), milk, nutmeg, fresh thyme, breadcrumbs, onion, flour, fennel, cream, butter, and mushrooms. Somewhere in there is the pasta too. You just can’t see it. But it’s there. I didn’t forget it.

We make a rich, creamy sauce with our onions and fennel. Then, we just throw everything in. You won’t miss that canned stuff one bit!

Throw in our pasta. It doesn’t get easier. I love how the farfalle look here.

After a little oven time, the top gets brown and crunchy. Sprinkle with parsley to add a little color. I didn’t have any parsley… This is warm, comforting, and so simple to throw together. Perfect for the rainy, cold weather we will be having this weekend! Happy pasta making!


Print Recipe


Thyme Chicken Pasta Bake with Mushrooms and Fennel

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Servings
servings


Ingredients

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Servings
servings


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. In a large pot or dutch oven, melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add onion and fennel. Cook until onion is translucent and fennel is soft about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

  3. Add 2 more tbsp of butter and 1/2 cup of flour. Stir to cook flour for just a minute. Add milk and cream. Stir until the mixture thickens about 5-10 minutes. Add nutmeg, 1 1/2 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp pepper. Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.

  4. Add mushrooms, chicken, thyme and pasta to the cream sauce. Stir until well combined.

  5. Pour pasta mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with parmesan and breadcrumbs.

  6. Bake until hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Turn broiler on high and place pasta bake under the broiler for another couple of minutes so it can brown. Remove and serve hot.


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