Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake with green pesto is a great dish for using up leftover chicken. You can of course cook the chicken from scratch. Either way, this creamy pasta bake with broccoli makes a delicious family meal. If we're having one of those evenings when people need to eat at different times, I find a pasta bake works well as it can be kept warm in the oven.
The green pesto adds a lovely flavour and using cream cheese means you don't have to make a sauce. With the added broccoli, it's a meal in itself. I do like to also serve it with a green salad for some added colour (and nutrition obviously). Chicken and broccoli go very nicely together. Although broccoli is available all year round, it's in season from October through to around April. You may be able to find some locally grown during these months.
If you are using fresh chicken, you can prepare this pasta bake in advance and keep it in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Just bake it when you're ready. You can also re-heat a portion. If you are cooking straight from the fridge, add an extra 5 minutes to the cooking time. Remember, if you are using leftover chicken, you should only re-heat the chicken once.
This is a perfect way to use up and leftovers from a Roast Chicken. If you have any other green veg, you can use it up in this dish. All the ingredients can be bought organic. When buying chicken, try to buy British chicken and check the label. This means it has been bred, reared and slaughtered in the UK. British poultry is produced to some of the highest standards in the world and British hens are vaccinated against salmonella. British chickens also have a lower carbon footprint since they have travelled less. It also helps to support British farmers who look after our countryside.
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. Make sure it's piping hot when re-heated. It won't freeze very well as the texture will be quite mushy after it's been frozen.
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake
- 400 g penne organic, fairtrade
- 200 g broccoli cut into small florets, stems thinly sliced, organic
- 2 tbsp olive oil organic, fairtrade
- 350 g chicken diced
- 2 leeks trimmed, thinly sliced, organic
- 2 cloves garlic peeled, crushed, organic
- 250 g low fat cream cheese organic
- 3 tbsp green pesto organic
- 1 dash black pepper freshly ground, organic, fairtrade
- 1 dash salt optional
- 85 g mature cheddar cheese grated, organic
- 4 tbsp breadcrumbs organic, optional.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Cook the pasta in a pan of lightly salted boiling water according to the packet instructions. Steam the broccoli over the pasta for the last 5 minutes
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and if you are using fresh chicken, fry until browned then set aside. Leftover chicken is already cooked so not needed yet.
- Fry the leek over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the cream cheese and pesto to the pan and stir until melted.
- Add the chicken, pasta and broccoli and stir together so the pasta is well coated in the sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Tip into an oven proof casserole dish and sprinkle the grated cheese and breadcrumbs over the top. For the breadcrumbs, you can blitz a few slices of bread in a food processor.
- Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browned.