HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN ALFREDO BAKED ZITI

This recipe goes out to all of you rad parents with kiddos heading back to school this week.  You asked for quick and easy recipes in our recent reader survey here.  And let me tell you, this one’s a keeper.  If you were a child of the 80’s like me, you can even pop it in your Trapper Keeper to hold onto for busy school nights ahead.

Seeing all of the cute first-day-of-school kids pop on Facebook with new backpacks and lunch boxes has totally made me a nostalgic for those annual load-up-the-shopping-cart, try-to-convince-Mom-to-buy-us-new-everything, back-to-school supply shopping trips!

I mean, in elementary school I had to get that 64-pack of Crayola crayons (with vivid tangerine, holla!), Mr. Sketch scented markets, and cool eraser tops and neon grippers for my #2 pencils.  In middle school, it was Lisa Frank everything (oh yes, especially the unicorn stickers), a super-cool Trapper Keeper, and mechanical pencils.  And in high school, you’d better believe we drove all over town until I found The Exact Color of Jansport backpack that I wanted, that would hold all of those Mead’s 5-Star notebooks, my fancy graphing calculator, and every color of gelly roll pin imaginable.

All non-negotiables, clearly.  🙂

Delicious chicken and ziti are tossed with a lighter alfredo sauce and baked up to cheesy perfection.

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN ALFREDO BAKED ZITI

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN ALFREDO BAKED ZITI
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN ALFREDO BAKED ZITI

INGREDIENTS:

CHICKEN BAKED ZITI INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces ziti (or any pasta shape)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
  • 1 batch alfredo sauce (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2% low fat)
  • (optional toppings: additional shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley)

ALFREDO SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-fat milk (I used 1%)
  • 3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

*This isn’t a super-saucy dish, so if you like a lot of sauce, you might want to consider doubling this recipe. If you don’t have the time to make your own sauce, one standard-sized jar should be enough.

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE CHICKEN BAKED ZITI:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and alfredo sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.
  3. Pour half of the pasta into a greased baking dish (either an oval baking dish, as pictured above, or a 9 x 13-inch baking dish will work). Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of cheese. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.

TO MAKE THE ALFREDO SAUCE:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

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