South-of-the-Border Pasta Bake

South of the Border Pasta Bake

South of the Border Pasta Bake

This South-of-the-Border Pasta Bake Recipe combines whole-grain pasta with bits of seasoned chicken breast in an easy cheese sauce.  By focusing on bold flavors on the chicken and in the casserole, this low-fat dish has lots of appeal.

  • 8 oz whole-grain penne rigate
  • 3/4 lb bonless, skinless, chicken breats, cut into bite-size pieces (about 3 large chicken breasts)
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2T chili powder
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 c skim milk
  • 1c reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. Place chicken bits in a zip-top bag.  Add cumin, coriander, chili powder and pepper. Toss to coat.  Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add seasoned chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly done, about 5 minutes.  Add onions, pepper and garlic to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile whisk flour and salt into milk.  Pour into small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, Reduce heat and stir in cheese.  Remove from heat and stir until cheese is melted.  Add cilantro and stir to blend.  Add pasta to chicken mixture.  Pour cheese sauce over all and stir to blend.  Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until bubbling.

Note: Can be prepared and refrigerated overnight.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 20-30 minutes or until heated through.

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