Cheese. Chicken. Mushrooms. Roasted red peppers. Pasta... Seriously, what's not to love? And this recipe makes enough for an extra meal that you can either share with elderly grandparents, your starving college student brother, or freeze for your own family to enjoy on another night. That's right, a freezer meal! Hooray!
First, use any Roasted Red Pepper that you like, but I like these ones. They are already sliced into thin strips so all you have to do is run your knife through them a couple of times and they are ready. Just in case you aren't sure where to find them, look with the pickles at your grocery store. They are on the very top isle at my store.
The peppers need to be drained so that your pasta isn't runny from the extra liquid. I line a plate with double paper towels and use a fork to place the peppers on top. Then I cover them with more paper towels and let all those pepper juices soak away.
A little note on mincing garlic... I refuse to do it! I discovered this little trick that I love. I use a small grater and simply grate garlic right into my recipes.
Now, for the recipe...
Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Penne
*adapted from Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne from Our Best Bites
6 tbls. butter, plus more for baking dishes
1 lb. penne pasta
1 tsp. olive oil
4 boneless skinless ckicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsl. flour
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 cups milk
16 oz. mushrooms, sliced
16 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into small pieces
2 cups (8 oz.) provolone or of a provolone/mozzerella mix
2 cups (8 oz.) freshly grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 400. Butter, or spray with cooking spray, two 2-quart baking dishes. A 9x13 rectangle and 8x8 square baking dish can also be used (a disposable is convienant for freezing). Boil pasta three minutes short of al dente. Drain and set aside.
While boiling pasta, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until browned and opaque throughout. Remove chicken and saute mushrooms until golden brown. Use extra oil if needed.
In a large stock pot, the one pasta was boiled in works well, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking 1 minute. While whisking constantly, gradually add milk (I add two cups at a time); bring to a simmer. Continue to whisk frequently, for about another minute as sauce thickens. Add mushrooms and red peppers. Cook for another minute, take off heat and stir in provolone and a generous 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
Add chicken and pasta to sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide pasta between baking dishes. If freezing, place a generous 1/2 cup parmesan into a baggie. If baking, sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake, uncovered, until golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Once pasta is in baking dish, let cool. Wrap with plastic wrap. I ususally wrap it twice. Place baggie with cheese on top. I also add a little note with baking directions so that I am not scrambling for the recipe come baking time. Cover entire pan with foil. Again, I usually double wrap it. I use a marking pen to label and add a use by date. That way there are no mystery surprizes in my freezer. Freeze for up to three months. To bake, preheat oven to 400, remove foil, and plastic. Set cheese aside. Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil, stir pasta, and top with cheese. Bake, uncovered, another 15 minutes, or until bubbly and hot throughout.
Serve with warm bread and a salad. Ummmmmm!