This time of year, I love to make big bakes of every kind and have my oven going nonstop. It keeps everything warm, from my house to my belly, and that makes me happy!
For dinner tonight, I wanted some kind of mac n’ cheese, but I needed it to be a little more substantial. We had a bunch of veggies leftover from the weekend, so I threw them in too. It still needed more though. So, I diced up some chicken and threw that in. I topped it off with a basic cheesy roux, and dinner is ready!
While it seems like this dinner has a lot of steps, it’s really just chopping, sautéing, chopping and sautéing some more. The oven does the final bake and this even makes enough for leftovers tomorrow. It’s simply just the best kind of food to eat this time of year.
Creamy Chicken & Cauliflower Pasta Bake
- 3 cups pasta, any kind (whole wheat or regular, and any kind of small pasta shape)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup milk, any kind
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, + more for sprinkling on top
- Koshers salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 large, or 3-4 smaller chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large pot, cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water, and set aside.
- In that same pot, add in 1 tablespoon olive oil and warm over medium heat. Once warm, mix in flour and whisk for 1 minute. Add in milk slowly and whisk continuously until it begins to simmer and thicken. Remove from heat and mix in parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in reserved pasta water and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add in remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced chicken and saute for a few minutes on both sides until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add in garlic and onion and saute until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add in cauliflower and continue to saute until everything begins to brown, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To assemble, in a large baking dish, add in sauteed vegetables and top with chicken. Pour creamy roux mixture over top and mix everything together. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!