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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Get in my Belly! Spicy Penne & Chicken Bake

I hate the title of this original recipe. It just doesn't do the dish justice. If you can think of a better one - PLEASE leave a comment! Alternately, I've called it Spicy Chicken Casserole, but that is just so uninspired.

This is a super tasty pasta dish. I make my own red sauce, but in a pinch ( a tight pinch) you can use store bought and 'doctor' it up with garlic, fresh basil & red chili flakes.

I also use Barilla's Pasta Plus. I wish it was organic, but I'm confident that they'll eventually get with the program. The Pasta Plus is high in protein, fiber & omega-3 so it takes a little of the guilt out of eating pasta (at least for me) and it's better for everyone!

Red Sauce
1-2 lbs of precooked chicken (roasted, baked, or grilled)
3/4 lb Penne pasta
1 cup good quality Parmesan cheese
1 bunch baby spinach
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or 1 cup sour cream

Red Sauce: (I use all organic. Especially packaged food - if you compare labels between organic and un-organic, you'll find fewer words you can't pronounce in the organic food. Less chemicals, less flavor 'enhancers', less stuff.)

56 oz of crushed tomatoes (or whole plum tomatoes pureed lightly - seeds removed)
1/8 c. olive oil
3 gloves garlic, finely minced
1 onion, chopped small
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup good Chianti or other dry red wine
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of sugar and
Coarse Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 small bunch fresh basil
1/2 heavy whipping cream or 1 cup sour cream

Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft, 4-5 minutes. add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add chili flakes, pepper & oregano and saute until fragrant. While oil is still sizzling add wine and then half of the tomatoes. Stir to combine. When the sauce starts to bubble add the rest of the tomatoes1 teaspoon of salt. Simmer, covered 20-30 minutes. Add basil and season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in cream or sour cream.

While the sauce is simmering cook the pasta according to package directions. Cook the chicken (if starting with raw chicken).

Combine sauce, chicken, extra basil (if desired), and pasta in stock pot. Mix gently until well combined. Pour mixture into a 9x13 or similar sized casserole dish. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Place a pile of baby spinach in the center of each dish and spoon the spicy pasta bake into the center of each spinach pile. Eat!

This recipe is for my friend Aiden! When he ate this he finally realized I was a great cook. :) Hi Aiden! (He's the one in the white t-shirt. And that is his sister Hannah & brother Ben. They live in Kampala, Uganda and are part of Team5Morris! Check them out here and here!)


  1. arrabbiato!

    In Italy the spicy (aka piccante) red marinara sauce is called arrabbiato which means 'angry' because it is spicy. So Piccante Pollo or Angry Chicken? Oh my husband doesn't love the word 'casserole' (see this funny explanation: http://www.talkoftomatoes.com/2007/01/07/italian-layered-dish/)

    SO instead you could say 'al Forno' which means 'of the oven'

    Sounds delish!!

  2. Arrabbiato Pollo - love it! THANKS Janelle ... again!