Sunday, June 24

Easy Summatime Pasta Bake!!

So listen, here lately it has been rather warm out, like old-man-saggy-tractor-bottom-jeans muggy.
Ya dig?
That is precisely why it has taken me a whole week to post this...ugh so.busy.

Anyway, after a long day of working in the heat, cow manure, dust and hydraulic fluid the last thing I wanna do is fire up the oven when I get home! AmIright?
I hear ya!

I mean, I love to bake, and that doesn't normally make me as hot as roasting/broiling/sauteing supper, so I am much more inclined to make something sweet and wonderful after I have gotten cleaned up.

See, the thing about that is that while I am perfectly fine with eating Cheerios everysinglenight of the week, my husband is partial to a meal.
I don't know where he gets that.

Hey, in the cooler months I am crock-pottin', roasting, frying, sauteing and braising away!
In the hazy, hot and humid weeks I am worn out by the time I peeeeeeeeel my jeans off in the evening.
What can ya do?

Hey!  Here's something you can make!!

It is my own version of an easy summatime pasta bake.
Chuck loves it and it is soooo not fussy.

I had it done the other night, start to finish, in 30 minutes.
One of the things I love about this dish, other than its versatility, is that the leftovers are great as well!

Before I get into the recipe, I would like to say that if you are a "noodles and sauce" person, then by all means throw some sauce in before you put it in the dish!
I am generally looking for a more light, and simple dish after a long, hot day, so this is very basic.

Here goes!

Summatime Pasta Bake


-1 box of pasta noodles(13.25-14.5 oz) cooked al dente' and drained.
(I prefer whole wheat because I have a guilty conscience, and I think a rotini or penne work best).

-1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into long, thin strips..(I got the pre-cut strips but ended up halving them lengthwise anyway).
-1 small-medium zucchini or squash, halved lengthwise and cut into thin  pieces.                              
(You can use any veggie here, even cut green beans or asparagus).
-1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
-1 pint cherry tomatoes
-salt and pepper
-1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence(optional..I ran across mine while rummaging through my spices).
-4 cups shredded Fontina cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
-1 tablespoon butter
-1/4 cup white wine, or chicken stock.
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Oregano Vinaigrette
-1/4 cup white wine vinegar
-3/4 cup olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1 tablespoon dried oregano (if fresh, use 2 tablespoons finely minced)

-Preheat your broiler and set the top rack in the upper third of the oven(not the closest to the top).
-If you don't care for roasted tomatoes then you can ignore this completely...butyou'remissingout.
-Place a metal rack over a sheet pan, and dump your tiny tomatoes onto it.
Like zeeessss...

-OK, You can totally drizzle some olive oil on them but you don't have to...I didn't.
-Now place them into the screamin' hot oven, shut the front door and fugheddaboutit.

(You will hear them pop occasionally but roasting them will take some time, so ignore them for the first ten minutes them commence to impatiently waiting).

-While the tomatoes are roasting, drain your pasta and dump it into a big bowl.
-Set it to the side.

Making the vinaigrette...
-In a small-medium bowl(not to be confused with medium-small), pour in the vinegar, oregano, salt and peppa.  Whisk it to combine.
-While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl so that it combines and doesn't separate.
-Once the vinaigrette is finished, pour it over the pasta and toss.

-Check the tomatoes.
There should be some deflation, but they aren't done til they look like this...

Once they do, toss them into the bowl with the pasta.
-Turn the oven to 350 degrees and grab a 13x9 inch oven-safe baking dish and butter/spray it.

-In a heavy-bottomed skillet, drizzle some olive oil and heat on medium until it becomes shimmery, that's when you know it's hot enough.
-Season your chicken with salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence, and place it in an even layer in the skillet.
-Don't touch it.
-! I mean it!
-It needs to cook and get brown, and the more moving you do, the less browning it will do.
-You make it anxious.

-Once mine begins to turn white and cook around the edges, I flip it.
-Cook it all the way through, but don't suck the life out of it:), then toss it into the pasta bowl!
All aboard!!

-Place the skillet back on the stove and melt a tablespoon of butter in it, sort of swishing it around and scraping up and chicken-goodness left over.
-Now, pour the wine in..or chicken stock if you prefer.
-Once the liquid has reduced by half, throw in the veggies!
-Cook until the onions are translucent, then throw the mix into the pasta bowl.
-Take 3 cups of the shredded cheese and mix it in with the pasta, then pour all of it into your baking dish.
-Top with remaining cup of cheese and slide it into the oven.
-Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and bubbling...about 10-12 minutes.


No fuss summertime pasta bake!

What's your easy summer dish?


P.s. Sorry it has taken me a WEEK to post!  I have been very sweaty.

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