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Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake

Homemade food is better for you than ready meals – that’s a given.  We’ve all watched as celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver strive to get us back into the home cooking habit with tasty treats and sensible meals that appeal to adults and children alike.  Our busy lives can make it difficult to find the time to cook a healthy meal from scratch so we’re concentrating on recipes that are easy to follow and won’t have you slaving over a hot stove for hours on end as you make sure that your family are getting the best and most nutritious food.

Most children like broccoli – it’s a great way of getting them to eat some healthy dark green vegetables that are fun and tasty too.  Chicken is low in fat and calories but high in protein – the perfect choice when you’re looking for meat that is jam-packed with essential vitamins and nutrients.  Pasta is a favourite with most kids – it comes in all shapes and sizes and is a great way of getting healthy carbs (great fuel for the body) into the kids.  If you choose whole wheat pasta, you’re also adding a considerable amount of dietary fibre – essential for a healthy digestive system.  Combining broccoli, chicken and pasta in one meal is like offering your family a superhero of a meal all on one plate.

Ingredients

FOR THE BAKEFOR THE TOPPING
350g of the pasta shapes of your choice85g mature Cheddar, grated
200g broccoli – slice the stems thinly and cut the tops into small floretsBunch of spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil1 finely chopped garlic clove
175g chestnut or button mushrooms cut into quarters50g flaked almonds
4 tbsp sundried tomato paste 
80g soft cheese with garlic and herbs (Philadelphia or Boursin or supermarket own brand) 
284ml carton of single cream 
350g chicken breast – boned, skinned and thinly sliced 

 

Preheat the oven to 190˚C/Gas Mark 5.  Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta shapes.  Stir well, return to the boil and cook for 6 minutes.  Add the broccoli to the pan and cook for another 5 – 6 minutes until the pasta is cooked ‘al dente’.  Drain well and return to the pan.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the sliced chicken and fry gently until lightly browned.  Add the quartered mushrooms and stir for 1 minute.  Add the cheese, tomato paste and cream.  Simmer gently, stirring all the time, until the cheese has melted and thickened the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli, and then stir gently until it’s evenly coated.  Tip into a large shallow ovenproof dish and shake gently to level it out.

Mix the spring onions, Cheddar, garlic and flaked almonds and sprinkle over the pasta bake.

 

Bake for 20 minutes until the topping is golden.

 

Serve and enjoy.

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