Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chicken and Asparagus Pasta Bake

This recipe came about because of another recipe I had concocted many years ago. I was at the grocery store last night and had decided to pick up the ingredients for that recipe when I got the idea to do something a little bit different, which I have since discovered is equally delicious. They're not exactly the same thing, but the ideas are exactly the same. One of the things that I've said over and over is that recipes are merely guidelines, nothing is written in stone, and you can make a dish into anything you want it to be! When I next make the recipe which was the base for this, I will post it and let you compare it. But, really, there is not much difference between what that is and what this is...
This idea came about because I was in the soup isle at the grocery store, and I happened to pass the cream of asparagus soup before I got to the one I had been initially looking for. Knowing that I had some fresh asparagus in the refrigerator at home, my mind immediately switched gears and came up with this variation. Since I also had chicken breasts in my freezer, that sounded like a great choice to go with the asparagus and pasta. So, throw a few things together, and... Voila!

Printable Recipe

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. cavatappi pasta
1 - 2 bunches fresh asparagus asparagus
3 (10.75 oz.) cans Cream of Asparagus soup
2 c. chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Fill a large stockpot with water and bring it to a boil; add the pasta and cook for approximately 8 minutes. (If you decide to use a different pasta, simply cook it for one minute less than the instructions call for for al dente pasta.)
Place the chicken breasts in a medium sauce pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking the chicken until it's no longer pink on the inside. When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the water and cut into cubes; place in a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and then combine the olive oil into it; add the onion and sauté until transparent. During the last minute of cooking, add the garlic to the pan and sauté with the onion until the raw bite of the garlic has been cooked off. Add this mixture to the bowl with the chicken.
Clean and trim the asparagus, cutting it into 1-inch pieces. Add the asparagus pieces to the mixing bowl.
Empty the contents of the three cans of soup into a small mixing bowl and combine it with the chicken stock until the soup is thinned out and the mixture is fairly smooth. Add this to the bowl with the chicken, onion and garlic mixture, and asparagus. Stir the mixture to combine everything and salt and pepper to taste; fold in the cooked pasta. Pour the entire mixture into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan, cover with foil, and bake in a preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes. Uncover the mixture, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for another 8 - 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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