Southwestern Pasta Bake



            Southwestern Pasta Bake is a great go-to casserole.  This Rachel Ray meal is not your stereo-typical casserole: no cream soups, no sour cream, and no long baking time!  It takes a few minutes to prep, but once you put it under the broiler in the oven, you are only a few minutes from eating!  In total, it takes about 30 minutes to make.  This meal is great by itself or with some veggies on the side.  The Southwestern Pasta Bake makes a full casserole dish.  We get two nights’ supper out of this meal for our family of two and a half (or one supper and a couple lunches each).  Just add a little bit of milk and cheese to leftovers to freshen them up.  Enjoy!

My husband and I have adapted this recipe from Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats.

Southwestern Pasta Bake


Coarse salt

12 oz. penne pasta (about ¾ of a 16 oz. box of pasta)

2 T. vegetable oil

4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 T. ground cumin

1 T. ground coriander

2 T. chili powder

Coarse black pepper

½ yellow onion

3 garlic cloves

1 jalapeño, seeded

2 T. butter

2 T. all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

¾ pound sharp yellow Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 ½ cups)

1 T. dried cilantro (or ¼ cup fresh, chopped cilantro)

1 T. dried parsley (or ¼ cup fresh, chopped parsley)


1.  Preheat your oven to the high broiler setting.

2.  Get you pasta cooking, and follow directions on box.

3.  While pasta is cooking, pour oil into skillet and heat to medium-high heat.

4.  Mix the cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Use about 2 tablespoons of this mixture to season the chicken (more or less to your taste).  Save the extra for next time.

5.  Add the chicken to the oil in the heated skillet and cook about 5 minutes, until lightly browned.

6.  Process the onion, garlic, and jalapeño in a food processor until finely chopped or chop finely by hand.  Add to chicken mixture in skillet and cook for about 5 minutes.

7.  While chicken mixture is cooking, begin the cheese sauce.

8.  Heat a medium sauce pot over medium heat (I use a little higher than medium heat on our stove).  Melt the butter and stir or whisk the flour in.  Allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly browned.

9.  Very gradually whisk in milk.  It might be a little lumpy, but just keep on whisking.

10.  Once the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Remove from heat.

11.  Drain pasta and dump back in the pasta pot.  Add the chicken mixture and cheese sauce to the pasta pot and stir to combine.  Transfer everything to a 9X13 baking dish (or comparable casserole dish).

12.  Place under broiler for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned.  Enjoy!



One Response to “Southwestern Pasta Bake”

  1. sandravancourt Says:

    Looks great and fast! Have you tried the quick cooking pasta that has come out by Creamette? It cooks in under 5 minutes and tastes just the same as its longer cooking counterparts. Will be trying this recipe next week!

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