By Kara Heald
This is a tasty and comforting family casserole, perfect for after the holidays, when you want to lighten things up a bit, but still eat something hearty that will stick to your ribs. The homemade white sauce was very easy and a nice change from canned condensed soup. You can use any noodle of your choice — the original recipe calls for whole-wheat, egg-white "no yolk" noodles, but I opted for one of my favourite pantry items — my go-to pasta, quinoa penne. To make this recipe completely gluten-free, substitute gluten-free flour or rice flour for the 2 tbsp of flour in the white sauce.
This recipe is from the Chicken Farmers of Canada's Swim Kitchen digital cookbook, a free downloadable compilation of foolproof recipes from Canadian swim parents.
1. Begin by fully cooking the two chicken breasts in a skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Let cool slightly before chopping.
2. Wipe excess liquid from skillet, and then add a wee drizzle of olive oil and sauté the bell pepper and zucchini for a few minutes, until crisp tender. Remove from heat, mix chopped chicken in with the veggies and set aside.
Prepare the white sauce:
3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
4. Once butter bubbles up and foams, add flour and whisk for 1 minute.
5. Whisk in milk, continuing to stir until it starts to boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes while sauce thickens, stirring intermittently.
7. Stir in pepper, basil and Parmesan. Turn off heat and set aside until ready to add to casserole.
8. Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. With 2 minutes left for the pasta to cook, add the broccoli to the pasta pot.
10. Drain pasta and broccoli and add to the skillet with the chicken, zucchini and bell pepper.
11. Stir the white sauce into the casserole mixture.
12. Pour the pasta mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with the cheese, then paprika.
13. Bake 30 minutes.