Simple cheesy pasta bake recipe with chicken, bacon, and spinach – one for the regular recipe rotation! Getting the kids to eat plenty of veg can be a real struggle. Often left until the end, when they claim they’re too full to eat any more (yet they miraculously can fit in a bit of dessert!), it can make mealtimes go on seemingly forever.
Throwing plenty of veggies into a pasta bake however, seems to work some kind of magic – at least for my kids! Every time I make this the plates are cleared in no time and second helpings are requested.
No pushing veggies to the edge of the plate. No bribes or cajoling required, just happy, full kids, and even happier parents!
I used canned tomatoes, mixed bell peppers and spinach in this one, but throw in whatever you have at hand. Zucchini, peas, broccoli – it all works.
I bet you could even hide a sprout or two in there!
Here’s what ingredients you’ll need for delicious baked pasta:
- 4 1/2 cups dried pasta shapes (I used rigatoni)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2 x 14oz cans chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 packed cups fresh baby spinach
- 8 rashers cooked bacon, chopped
- 1 packed cup strong cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 packed cup mozzarella, shredded
- Small bunch parsley, roughly torn
Instructions to prepare simple baked pasta at home:
- Preheat the oven to 375f. Boil a large pan of water and cook the pasta for 1 minute less than recommended on the pack. Drain.
- Whilst the past is cooking, heat the oil on a medium heat, in a large skillet. Add the chicken, and cook until just sealed – about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the bell peppers, along with the salt, pepper, garlic, tomato puree, oregano and thyme. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the canned tomatoes and cream, bring to a gentle bubble, then add the pasta, spinach and cooked bacon. Stir everything together, then transfer to a large baking dish.
- Top with the cheddar and mozzarella, and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown.
- Take out of the oven and top with parsley before serving.