As we get closer to our due date Kirby and I are trying to cherish every little moment we have together. Being in the kitchen is one of our favorite things to do together. Every since we moved home to MN we have been so busy that kitchen time has hit the back burner. We are trying to make an effort these last few weeks before Baby O arrives to make time for it. One of the tips I had in my Things to Do Before Your Due Date post is freezing meals. This will save so much time and energy once the baby arrives! This delicious Chicken & Pasta Bake is the perfect things for now or or later.
Pasta is one of my all time favorite meals no matter what type. This meal is super easy to make and packed with yummy lemon flavor. It’s also light and filled with spinach & chicken for a healthier spin on a pasta bake. We actually split this into two 9×9 pans to eat one for dinner and freeze one for later! You still bake both of them at the same time so it really makes no difference. I recommend just buying the cheap tin pans to make clean up and freezing much easier.
If you’re not a huge fan of lemon I would cut the serving of lemon zest in half, but we loved the flavor! We think next time we make this we’ll probably add mushrooms for an extra kick. You could really have fun with this and add so many different vegetables depending on what your favorites are.
Check out the recipe below and if you’re a mama to be make sure to freeze one! You’ll be so thankful you did when a yummy dinner is as easy as popping a pan in the oven!
Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake
Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish, or two 9x9-inch baking dishes.
Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Salt generously. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. When it reaches al dente, drain.
While the pasta water is boiling and the pasta cooks, heat a deep sauté pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When it shimmers, add the chicken pieces and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes, not moving the pieces and letting them brown, then stir and brown the other side. Add the chopped greens, letting handfuls wilt down first if necessary, and cook just until half wilted. Spread in the prepared baking dish (or divide between two dishes). Add the diced shallots and toss.
Wipe out the sauté pan and return to medium heat. Add the butter and melt. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt, 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese, and lemon zest. Add 1 teaspoon salt and a generous quantity of black pepper.
Toss the pasta with the chicken and spinach in the baking dish (or dishes), using a spoon or your hands to mix thoroughly. Pour the sauce over top and mix. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes or until hot through and slightly browned on top.
To freeze one pan of this casserole, bake and then let cool completely. Cover tightly with a layer of plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To bake from frozen: Heat the oven to 400°F. Remove plastic wrap but cover again with foil. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until hot through, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes or until the top browns slightly.