It’s about this time of year that my weekly dinner menu starts to sound a bit like a broken record. It’s because I’m a sucker when it comes to baked and bubbly pasta dishes. And since I tend to cook on a seasonal cycle, we don’t have a whole lot of time to enjoy these types of meals here in the desert southwest. With that limitation in mind, I try to cram in as many baked pastas as I can. But, like most every family, mine likes a bit of variation in our dinners. That, my friends, is how this particular recipe was born.
Whole wheat penne is the base for this dinner. From there, we add layers of flavor with juicy chicken, sweet white corn and tangy green chiles. All of it is brought together in a cheesy sauce that offers just a hint of spice. Sounds yummy, right? Better yet, it’s super easy. I served it with green salad and a side of cornbread and my taste testers licked up every last crumb. If you’re looking for an inspired dinner idea for this week, you might want to give this one consideration.
- 16 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 cup organic, frozen white corn
- 1 12 oz. can diced green chiles
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup salsa verde
- 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese, separated
- 1 cup blue corn tortilla chips, crushed (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and allow it to heat through. Add chicken pieces and cook 5-7 minutes until no longer pink. Season chicken with cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine and heat through. Once mixture is heated, pour it out onto a large plate and set aside.
- Return skillet to heat and add butter. Once the butter is melted, stir in flour and mix well. Allow the flour mixture to cook for a minute, until it is golden brown. Whisk in milk and salsa and heat, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of the pepper jack cheese until it is thoroughly melted and combined.
- Add chicken mixture and sauce to cooked pasta and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased, 2 quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and crushed tortilla chips. Cover. Bake for 20-30 minutes until warm and bubbly. Remove cover and bake an additional five minutes until cheese is golden brown.