Pesto-Chicken Penne Casseroles Recipe
- 1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
- 6 cups cubed cooked chicken
- 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 jar (15 ounces) Alfredo sauce
- 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1 jar (8.1 ounces) prepared pesto
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, cheese blend, spinach, tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, milk and pesto. Drain pasta and add to chicken mixture; toss to coat.
- 2. Transfer to two greased 8-in. square baking dishes. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil; sprinkle over casseroles.
- 3. Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.
- 4. To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly. Yield: 2 casseroles (6 servings each).
1-1/3 cups equals 612 calories, 30 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 111 mg cholesterol, 829 mg sodium, 41 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 42 g protein.
Reviews for Pesto-Chicken Penne Casseroles
"Like other's said, this is delicious. After reading the reviews and then first trying it, I was a little disappointed. But after several more bites, I realized this is definitely a keeper. I cut this recipe in half, cooked the chicken beforehand, and as another reviewer suggested, used (undrained) petite diced tomatoes instead of crushed. I actually measured out the ounces instead of estimating "oh, this looks like about half a jar of pesto". I was able to get half of this recipe into a 9.5x9.5 dish, but it was near the top. Not sure how anyone could fit half of this in an 8x8. Secondly, a couple minutes before it was to be "done", I turned on the broiler, waited a few minutes, and stuck the dish back in, uncovered. That gave the bread crumb topping a little bit more crunch (not much, but some). For me and my husband, half of this recipe was WAYYYY more than enough. There are a lot of leftovers, but I'm not really upset about that :)"
"Very easy to assemble, especially when you use the chicken from a ready made rotisserie chicken. The only down side is that I found it a bit bland. It needs some salt and pepper added to the mixture."
"Superb! It was delicious the first time, and I just used the second casserole tonight. I defrosted it longer than recommended and it still took about 80-90 minutes to heat up, but it was just wonderful once it was reheated. This would be great for company or to bring to a potluck."
"I made this and my family loved it. I made it on the stove top instead of in the oven. I also added peas and mushrooms but I made the sauce according to the recipe and it was delicious!"
"Excellent casserole! It's just me, so I was going to halve it, but then decided to share it with a friend and just made one casserole in a 9x13 pan. It was a big casserole!!!! More than filled the pan! I think next time, I will halve it and then bake it in a 2-1/2 quart baking dish. Loved the flavor of the pesto!!"
"Easy and really tasty. It got my husband to eat spinach! Huge!"
"A delicious recipe! I used bow tie pasta instead of penne to have a cuter look lol! I will for sure be making this again!"
"This was really good and so quick to make. I didn't have crushed tomatoes so I used a 14 1/2 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes and that worked fine. We eat small portions so this made 3 8-x-8 casseroles for us. I lined my casserole with plastic wrap, a sheet going in each direction and extending beyond the sides, filled the casserole and then brought the extended pieces up to wrap the casserole ingredients. Finally, I wrapped it all in aluminum foil and labeled it for the freezer. To prepare, unwrap it and put it in a casserole the night before it is to be served and thaw in the fridge overnight. It takes up less room in the freezer and frees the casserole to use in the meantime."
"This was easy to make and very tasty. All of the ingredients are readily available unlike some other recipes that I have tried. I didn't have 2% milk, so I used 1% and it turned out fine. Love that the recipe includes another night's meal. I did have to cook it longer than stated, and took the cover off for the last 10 minutes hoping to crisp up the breadcrumbs which didn't happen. This was the only thing about the recipe that I didn't like as they were somewhat soggy. I might try mixing the breadcrumbs with butter next time to see if that will help."
"This is my husband's absolute favorite dish that I make! What makes this recipe even better is that it makes 2 casseroles so that you can freeze one and have it later and it still tastes just as good. Amazing recipe!!!"
"It was very tasty but I added onion for more flavor. I used homemade pesto and to save time I used canned chicken. I like that it makes a double batch that you can freeze. I divided it and froze three 2 serving portions."
"Loved it! Followed the recipe and it filled two nine inch cake pans to freeze and one smaller dish with enough for my husband and I. He is not a huge fan of Italian flavors, but he said it was good. I left the Parmesan cheese out of the topping and just did bread crumbs since I felt like there was enough cheese in the dish already."
"Awsome ! My daughter and son in law are vegetarians so i made one with half the meat and the other meatless. Everyone loved it !"
"My picky husband loved this! Next time, I might not add as much pesto as they recommend."
"This dish is fantastic. I have made it for company time and again, never no leftovers. Everyone asks for the recipe. It is still delicious after it has been frozen, seems the flavors have more chance to meld. This is a keeper in my recipe box"
"It was just way too garlicky for us. I followed the recipe to a "tee" as I always do when I am trying a recipe for the first time. We just didn't care for it."
"This turned out awesome! I left out the pesto (due to allergies) and bread crumbs (personal preference) and it still turned out great! I will definitely be making this one again!"
"It's not easy to please a family of 5... all of them! They all liked it and asked to make it again. I pretty much followed the recipe with some slight measuring alterations (like not measuring :-)) It was easy to put together so it is a quick busy night meal."
"This casserole was a HUGE with my boys. Makes enough for a few meals. The combination of the pesto and alfredo sauce is very nice. Will be making this again and again."
"I just made this for the first time. This was a hit! Time saver: I cooked and cubed the chicken the night before, so the next day when I needed to serve it, it was a snap to cook the pasta and toss everything else together. It made much more than I expected, so I split it into 3 casseroles. I loved how the spinach didn't get too soft. My variations: I used low-fat Italian cheese, 4 c. fresh baby organic spinach instead of 3 (it could have used more if you love the greens), and put tomato slices in a layer on the top, just under the crumb topping. Then I removed the lid for the last 10 minutes of baking. I didn't know if it required basil pesto or tomato, but I went with basil and it was great.Next time I will try to lighten it up-- it was very cheesy so I'll cut the cheese back and substitute unsweetened almond milk for the 2% milk. I'll also use 5 c spinach instead of 3. It would make a great pot luck entree, with plenty enough to reserve 1 casserole for home."
"Excellent. The only thin I did different was to add a can of tomatoe sauce, giving it a creamy tomatoe sauce flavor."
"really really good. The seasoning is perfect. The only problem is that it doesn't hold together very well when you scoop it out of the pan. Nevertheless, I am a huge fan of this recipe and will make it again. I followed the instructions exactly."
"Great dish!! I love that you can freeze one for another time or to give to someone."
"Tastes just like something you'd order at an Italian restaurant! I froze one for a few months and had it last night, following surgery last week: yum!"
"Great casserole! I wasn't sure about the spinach, but the whole thing was fantastic! I loved having the extra one just waiting in the freezer."
"It was great! The whole family loved it."
"I cut the recipe in half and used a 7x11 dish. Perfect size for 4 adults."
"This was delicious! It is now one of my 8 year old's favorite meals! The house smelled amazing while this was cooking. I love that we have another one waiting for us in the freezer! It tasted like something you could be served in a restaurant. Definitely a great meal for when company is coming over!"
"This was a very east and wonderful dish."
"This was pretty tasty!"
"My family has been telling every one about this meal they loved it very much!!"
"My whole family loved this recipe! It has great flavor and was still fantastic out of the freezer."
"Halved the amount of cheese mentioned in this recipe."
"So so good!!! I made my own alfredo sauce and it turned out amazing!"
"two thumbs up!!!"
"Excellent casserole - I was looking for something to put in the freezer for when my baby comes, and this was perfect! It made 4 8x8 dishes.... the assembly/cooking of each ingredient did take some time but it was SO good, totally worth it. It didn't taste 'canned' at all. I used broccoli instead of spinach, and made my own alfredo sauce."
"This recipe was by far one of the best I've made. It was very creamy and extremely flavorful. It calls for simple ingredients and it was easy to put together. My husband raved about it and has already requested that I make it again, which I certainly will!"
"I discovered is dish about 3 months ago and decided I would have it for dinner. I froze one dish and forgot about it until last night. True to it's word, it tasted just as good as the first time I cooked it.My only recommendation is that if you do decide to freeze a dish, place wax paper on top and then cover with aluminum foil. The helps preserve the texture better."
"GOOD GOOD LOVE IT"
"INCREDIBLE! My husbands HATES spinach and ate TWO helpings of this. The combination of flavors was perfection. I could eat this everyday and be a happy camper."
"I only had 3 cups of the Italian cheese and it was PLENTY rich enough. Definitely makes more than 2 8x8" pans. I used a 13x9 plus a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Friends and family really liked it!"
"Great recipe......everyone wanted the recipe !!!!!!!"
"Great recipe......everyone wanted the recipe !!!!!"
"This was one of the best recipes I have tasted!"
"This is great but because of hubby's sodium-restricted diet I had to make changes, using homemade ingredients instead of cans/jars, added broccoli and more spinach too.This is gonna be wonderful for when I host Bunco nite!"
"It is very tasty!!!! I didn`t have Italian Cheese blend so I have used Mozzarella and Med Cheeder blend."
"This made a huge 9x13 casserole, fed three men, four women and two children. This was a definate crowd pleaser!"
"Everyone in my family loves this dish! I spend a Sunday afternoon on it. I double the recipe, make homemade pesto, homemade alfredo sauce and use fresh chopped tomatoes. We have one for dinner that night and three in the freezer! You have to space them out though, because it is loaded with calories and fat."
"Made today and it tastes great. However, I have a problem with the amount indicated as two 8-inch square pans. My recipe filled one 9 X 12-inch pan PLUS two 8-inch square pans. I froze the square pans and baked the other. More to share, yummy."
"I would definitely make this again! I love how it makes 2 - one for now, one for later. Tastes especially good with garlic bread."
"I can see why this was rated so highly...it is excellent! However, it probably isn't one dish I will make too often, just for special occasions. Thanks for the recipe though."
"Our family loved this recipe, it was very good, the ingredients went so well with each other, we will be making this again!"
"This was delicious!! I used rotisserie chicken to make it a little easier. I also used Light Alfredo sauce and thought it was still very creamy. I will definitely make this again!"
"I made this dish for a group of 60, and I got rave reviews! It did require some time, and I had help, but I will definitely make this again for my family soon."
"While time consuming, this was so worth it. I used homemade Alfredo sauce and home made pesto. I made this just as stated, except I added maybe 1tsp or so of fresh ground black pepper. This is definitely a company-worthy dish. I so admire people who dream up recipes like this! This is outstanding!!!! WOW!!"
"very easy to make"
"This casserole is just as good from the freezer and is excellent for potlucks!"
"This recipe is perfect just the way it is, although my husband prefers it with more spinach added. A little extra cheese doesn't hurt either. We can't go more than 2 weeks without making this one! Totally addicting."
"Very good, the 2nd one may have even been better... guess the flavors had a chance to meld more? Anyhow, served to the fam while in-laws were visiting and got compliments from everyone!"
"This dish has affectionately became known as "that stuff". There are never any leftovers"
"This was so amazing!! My husband and I think it tastes just like Macaroni Grill's penne Rustica! The only thing I did different is saute some fresh garlic in some olive oil and then mixed in the alfredo. Again AMAZING!!!"
"Great. Although next time I think I would try to make my own pesto to use and alfredo sauce. I accidentally forgot to buy the tomatoes at the store so I just chopped up some fresh tomatoes & red pepper, roasted them in the oven and added them. I also used a rotiserre chix to save on time. Used a mix of whole wheat and white pasta."
"This was amazing , everyone in the family loved it and I loved that it made extra to freeze..Will make it again.."
"This was delicious! My whole family loved it. It tasted like a dish you'd find in a nice Italian restaurant."
"I used broccoli(didn't have spinach on hand). YUMMY!!!"
"the first time i tasted this recipe, the words OLIVE GARDEN popped in my head! i have never had a meal that tastes like it was delivered from a high end resturant and served as it was home made!!! this is my familys new favorite recipe. we ate the first casserole until it was gone and had the 2nd one for dinner then next night! i cant believe how easy it is and the reward is a meal you cant stop eating."
"A friend made this for our family when we had our second child. Everyone loved it!"
"My family loved this. I used leftover alfredo sauce from dinner the night before which made this quick and easy to make! I will definitely be making thin one again."
"Delicious! Even my picky son loved it.Calorie and Fat content are a bummer though."
"Very good!!! My family loved it. Will definetly make it again."
"My husband loved it. I cut the recipe in half to try for the first time, so I have not tried it in the freezer. Next time I will make certainly make the full recipe and freeze. For my family of three, I think I will split into 3 casseroles; eat one, and two to freeze."
"Yum! I used an envelope packet of pesto instead of the jar & added bacon bits the 2nd time I made it. It's now a family favorite & I love having an extra to use later."
"This recipe is easy to throw together and ends up being a time-saver. We ate the first casserole right after I made it and the second one a month later. We thought the frozen casserole was even better than the fresh one!"
"I made this dish last night for dinner and it was very tasty. I was not disappointed by the various ingredients used in this dish, as they all worked very well together. Also nice because it makes an extra meal. Thanks for the recipe."
"I loved it!!! I used spinach from my garden and homemade pesto from my garden basil."
"This is one of the best casseroles I have had in a while! I even used whole wheat pasta and it tasted great! What a great way to get that spinach in, too! It's just creamy and delicious! I think it was the perfect amount of pesto too- sometimes I feel like pesto can be a bit overpowering, but I thought this was just right- gave it just the right flavor! It makes a nice big batch, so this is a great one for company! When I have dishes like this, I wonder why I ever go out to eat at Italian restaurants-- sometimes it really can be created in your own kitchen!"
"This dish was very good and tasted just as good the second day. My only complaint is it is very high in fat and calories so you may not want to have it very often."
"I made this for the staff at our school and they absolutely LOVED it. I've been asked for the recipe over and over. I however, didn't use the whole can of tomatoes only about half."
Full-Bodied White Wine
Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.