One of my favourite traditions at Christmas time is attending family pot-luck dinners. Everyone showing up with platters or casserole dishes full of over-the-top delicious food is a beautiful way to celebrate. Our family loves to cook but even more we love to eat! With everybody so busy throughout the year, we really look forward to getting together on Boxing Day to catch-up and break bread together.
This year is especially exciting for me because the family will be meeting our grandson, Coen for the first time. In honour of this momentous occasion – can you tell I’m a little excited! – I’ve written a new Christmas casserole recipe that I hope will become a holiday favourite.
CHICKEN ALFREDO CASSEROLE
PREHEAT OVEN 375*F
454 grams best quality Penne pasta – I used Barilla
3 – boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-size pieces
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
12 asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced into 2” pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
1 litre whipping cream
4 cups parmesan, shredded – I used Reggiano Parmigiano
1/3 cup panko crumbs
- Cook pasta according to package, drain and set aside.
- Using a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat, melt butter with olive oil.
- Add sliced mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers, red onion and minced garlic to the skillet.
- Increase heat to high and saute until mushrooms are golden – stir constantly.
- Remove vegetables from skillet and set aside.
- Add the chicken breasts pieces to the skillet and return heat to medium-high.
- Cook until chicken is browned and the juices run clear (about 10 minutes).
- Return vegetables to the skillet.
- Add whipping cream and bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add 3 cups of the parmesan cheese and blend in.
- Add pasta and cook mixture an additional 5 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken up. The sauce is thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon.
- Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or casserole dish with non stick spray. – I left mine right in the skillet.
- Add the pasta mixture to the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining cup of parmesan cheese and panko crumbs.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
THE LOVE: A common mistake that cooks make when they’re preparing a baked pasta casserole is the ratio of sauce to pasta. Make sure that you’re pasta is super creamy before it goes in the oven. The sauce will continue to thicken as it bakes. If there’s not enough sauce when you start baking, the casserole will be dry
* This dish can easily be converted to a vegetarian meal by simply omitting the chicken.
Thanks for reading.
Photography by Michelle Hooton
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