Easy Italian Chicken & Pasta Casserole

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What is it about casseroles? I mean, they’re awesome. They’re kind of fail-proof. They usually always taste great, at least relative to the effort it takes to make them which is minimal. They usually always involve at least one can of something and they definitely always involve a crunchy top.

Though I think my favorite thing about casseroles is the “put in the oven for 30 minutes” and walk away part. Then you’re life kind of turns into one of those Domino’s pizza commercials. You know, what can you do in 30 minutes?

Normally, for me these 30 minutes consists of cleaning up the kitchen and then making a side dish. But this still isn’t half bad. I don’t have the stress of having multiple dishes cooking up all at the same time, and when we’re done eating dinner, most of the clean-up is already done.

The one bad thing about casseroles refers back to that “can of something” point. Usually it’s a can of high sodium, high fat Campbell’s Cream of Whatever soup. I love these casseroles as much as the next mom from Ohio, but there’s gotta be something better. There is. Giada made a casserole.

I make this a lot. It’s easy and fresh and not too heavy. Give it a shot and tell me what you do in your 30 minutes.

Easy Italian Chicken and Pasta Casserole
Adapted from Food Network

1/2 box Farfalle Pastini (tiny bow ties)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed (1-inch cubes)
1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice (I use the ones with Italian seasoning)
2 generous handfuls shredded Italian cheese blend (I use Sargento Italian 5 cheese blend)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, season a little more, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, shredded cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 2 or 3 quart baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

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