Three Cheese Chicken Penne

Instead of slow cooker Sunday this past weekend, I opted for whipping up a new and very easy pasta dish. It’s definitely great for any day but especially perfect for a cold winter day. Aren’t most comfort foods even better in the winter? Who wants to be hovering over a stove when it’s 80+ degrees outside. Since our high temps have been in the 20’s as of late, I figured what better time to try this recipe.

The original recipe seemed okay but I like to alter almost all recipes more to my liking and I suggest you do that as well, whether for this dish or any dish you’re cooking. There is always room to play with a recipe, change the spices, change the amounts, add new things in. I fully believe in playing with recipes and making them your own, most of the time anyway. I’m definitely pleased with my altered version. It has a sutble heat and tons of flavor, which is thanks to some new spices and add-ins such as garlic and red pepper flakes. If I had remembered I had mushrooms on hand, I would have tossed those in too. This dish could very easily be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken or simply switching it up and using tofu or a faux chicken ‘meat’ instead.

Three Cheese Chicken Penne

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C pasta
  • 1 - 9 oz spinach
  • 4 C chicken raw and chopped
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes optional
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 14 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes drained
  • 2 oz cream cheese cubed
  • 1 C mozzarella shredded
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan grated

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions. When 1 1/2-2 minutes remain, add spinach. Gently push spinach into water and pasta until all spinach is covered. Drain well. Set aside.
  • In a large frying pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil. Cook chicken, seasoning with pepper, optional red pepper flakes, garlic, basil and thyme. Continue cooking until chicken is fully cooked. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in cream cheese cubes.
  • Transfer chicken and sauce mixture to a large bowl. Then combine pasta and spinach with the chicken mixture. Mix well. Spoon a third of the mixture into a large baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat layers two more times, finally topping off with remaining mozzarella and sprinkling with parmesan.
  • Bake covered with foil for 20 minutes and an additional 3 minutes uncovered. Serve warm.
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