There’s something about pulling a dish out of the oven that just seems kind of exciting, don’t you think? Maybe it’s that there’s a certain risk involved whenever you stick something in the oven, and that risk triggers a sort of adrenaline rush in us domesticated folk. And when you have a crappy oven like me with no viewing window, that risk gets even greater. You have no idea how things are coming along in there until you open the oven door at the end and you either sigh with relief and satisfaction, or you select a good curse word and proclaim to the family that you’re all going for take-out. Yes, using the oven can be risky. But let’s just fancy ourselves adrenaline junkies and enjoy the thrill, shall we? And I promise, the recipe I’m sharing today is really hard to mess up, so don’t you worry. :)
Today I will share with you a most delicious end-of-summer-appropriate dish, baked in the oven. Its stars include: bottled tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh parsley & basil, chicken, and pasta. Oh and breadcrumbs and more cheese. Interested? Try it out, it’s sophisticated enough for the more refined palate, and yet friendly enough for the kiddos.
Preheat your risky oven to 400 degrees F.
While the pasta is cooking, add your olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes, then throw in your onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through.
Add this mixture into the mixing bowl with the pasta. Also into the mixing bowl goes your canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, about 1/3 of the fresh parsley, salt, & pepper.
Pour all of this deliciousness into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. In a separate little bowl, mix together the panko (you can use regular breadcrumbs too, but I love the crunch from the panko) with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle this over the top of the pasta mixture. Cut your butter into small pieces and dot the top of the dish. Bake for about 25-28 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
After you triumphantly pull out your glorious dish from the oven (and save your curse words for another day), scatter the rest of your fresh parsley and all of your fresh basil over the top. By not cooking the herbs, they retain their delightful flavor and freshness.Then just sit back and relish in the fruits of your labor, knowing that you have conquered that risky oven and indeed enjoyed the thrill of it all.
Recipe adapted slightly from Giada De Laurentiis.