Baked Pasta Casserole w/ Bacon

by zesty on November 17, 2010 · 25 comments

A slight issue in the house that zesty built.  The furnace is NOT working.  Nothing to be alarmed about but I just do not have a tonne of time to post as I have to get the technician here and still get zesty junior on the bus and hit the office for a meeting.  In addition to the quick recap post today and remembering one of my favorite pasta dishes in the past year, I will be back tomorrow with a very exciting Book review.  I know an off schedule Thursday post…. kind of exciting?  I thought you would agree. So with that said, please enjoy this post from January of this year and stay tuned for tomorrow’s book review.

 

I have a pretty fun recipe to share with you today.  Remember back around the new year  – we went to a potluck and I was unsure what to bring.  Well I was surfing the net looking for ideas and I strolled by Heidi’s 101 Cookbooks and found an very interesting and delicious pasta dish.  Once laying my eyes on the picture I was hooked and then I read deeper into the recipe and I was all set.  I had all the ingredients on hand minus the mozzarella so that was a snap to pick up.

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I thought about adding a few ingredients to it that I had on hand not that it needed it -I just thought it would be nice to use of the stuff I had in the fridge.  The additions were chicken, bacon and roasted tomatoes.  Let’s just say it was a huge hit at the potluck.

Ingredients

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound whole wheat pasta shells
  • sea salt
  • 2 Chicken breasts (sliced and cooked)
  • 8 pieces of bacon  (cooked and crumbled)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups well-chopped fresh spinach
  • 10-12 Roasted grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded or torn into small pieces

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
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  3. Butter/oil a large casserole dish or baking pan – something roughly equivalent to 13×9-inch pan.
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  5. In a separate saute pan cook the bacon until crispy and then remove and set aside.
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  7. In a separate saute pan dry roast the almonds until brown and then remove and set aside.
  8. Boil the pasta in salted water per package instructions. Drain pasta, toss with some olive oil. Set aside.
  9. Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute the chicken with a couple pinches of salt until no longer pink.
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  11. While the chicken is cooking, pop some tomatoes in the oven to start the roasting process – toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cook for about 12-15 minutes.
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  13. Back to the chicken -stir in garlic and roasted tomatoes and let cook for a minute.  Toss in bacon and spinach. Cook for just about 20 seconds, until the spinach collapses a bit.
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  15. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the almonds and 1/2 of the zest; mixing extremely well, a minute or so.
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  17. Now sprinkle the bottom of baking dish with the rest of the zest.
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  19. Add a layer of the pasta to the bottom of the baking pan, now sprinkle with some of the cheese and chicken mixture, add more pasta, then more cheese and more chicken mixture until complete. Finish with a layer of cheese.
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  21. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly.
  22. Serve sprinkled with the remaining almonds.
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  24. ENJOY!

Zesty Tip: This pasta dish was really really good!  The only thing I noticed is that if you overcook it at all it will become pretty dry.  To avoid this you could add a little lemon juice to the chicken mixture and just be sure not to over bake the pasta and eat right away.

Around the Blogsphere

Are you ever looking for great blogs that have fun and exciting recipes?  I thought you would be so I decided I would share with you a few of my favorites in case you didn’t already know.

Here are some great recipe blogs that you will sure to find handy.

Kayln’s Kitchen – For a great combination of home cooked ideas, healthy alternatives and all around great recipes – this is a great spot.

Southern Plate – For all things Southern, Christy has it covered.  If you have never been here – it is a must to see.

RecipeGirl - This site has a lot of action, great recipes and Lori really knows how to cook.  Check it out.

Bakerella - Ever want to learn how to make the most amazing cake pops.  Bakerella is really amazing.

Joythebaker - For all things baking, it is a must to check out Joy.  You may never leave.

So there you have it.  A truly fun recipe to try on a Sunday afternoon and a great list of recipe blogs that you should check out for sure.  I hope you have a great Wednesday and I think I may have a little announcement on Friday.  Nothing major but just a little more fun.

Have a super Wednesday.

Take care

zest

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