Tuesday, October 29, 2013

White Pizza Casserole

I love a good casserole!  The main reason I love casseroles is that they feed my family for two nights!  I also love that casseroles take at least 30 minutes in the oven...which gives me time to get some other stuff done!  We eat a lot of Mexican inspired casseroles because we like spicy flavors, black beans, and corn!  But I wanted to create something a bit different...leaning towards Italian!  I had chicken in the fridge, so I put together this casserole...both John and I agreed that it tasted like White Pizza!  So that is where the name comes from!  It was wonderful, and I can't wait to eat the rest of it tonight!

Here's What You Need to Make the White Pizza Casserole:

  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts, diced
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced 
  • 10 ounces whole wheat penne pasta (about 2/3 of a 16oz box)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4-10 cloves of garlic (depends on how garlicky you like your food) 
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups Italian pizza cheese blend (mozzarella & provolone)
  • handful of freshly grated parmesan 
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon each parsley and thyme (fresh...use way less if you are using dried spices) 
Now Let's Make the White Pizza Casserole:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 casserole pan 
  2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook penne pasta according to the package directions - drain and set aside
  3. In a skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil.  Add in garlic and stir for a few seconds.  Then add in chicken (I salted and peppered the chicken before adding it to the skillet), parsley, and thyme and cook until chicken is cooked through (no pink!  This may be the only time that pink is a bad thing!)
  4. Remove chicken from skillet and add mushrooms to the skillet.  Cook until nicely browned.
  5. Combine the cooked pasta, cooked chicken, and cooked mushrooms
  6. In a large pot, whisk together minced garlic (I used about 4 cloves here) with the 4 tablespoons of butter - add salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk in the flour until bubbly.  Add in four cups of milk.  Whisk together flour mixture and milk until fully incorporated and the mixture becomes visibly thicker.  Once the mixture is bubbling, add in three cups of the pizza cheese blend and stir until melted.
  7. Add the pasta, chicken, and mushrooms into the pot with the milk/cheese mixture.  Stir to make sure that all of the food is coated and then pour into prepared casserole dish.
  8. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup pizza cheese blend and freshly grated parmesan cheese over the top
  9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until casserole becomes bubbly and slightly brown
  10. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving! 

I had no idea how this was going to turn out (I think John was a bit skeptical when I was describing it to him), but it was so good!  It was rich and filling...a perfect cold weather comfort food.  It also reminded me so much of white pizza that the next time I make it, I will definitely be putting some broccoli florets in there too!  It will go perfectly with the flavor, add a bit of color, and an extra veggie never hurt anyone!  I hope you enjoy this casserole! 

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