Casseroles are a wonderful thing on a cool Autumn or Winter night. And this is a nice one - really tasty, and you can make it ahead. Add a salad and some garlic bread, and you've got yourself a great dinner! Once you have your ingredients in order, this casserole comes together in a snap. If you're pressed for time, you can use store-bought cooked chicken, preshredded cheeses, and defrosted chopped spinach.
Cheesy Italian Casserole = yum.
Chicken Florentine Casserole
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 lb small pasta (I used rotelle)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 6 oz baby spinach, chopped
- 8 oz package cream cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained & chopped
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Place the chicken broth and chicken pieces into a medium/large saucepan (the liquid should cover the chicken). Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a low simmer and cover. Poach until the chicken is cooked through (using a leave-in digital thermometer is helpful).
Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool completely. Once cool, chop the chicken into small pieces. Cover and chill until ready to use.
If cooking right away, preheat the oven to 350�.
While you prepare the sauce, cook the pasta according to manufacturer directions, adding 1 tbsp salt & 1 tbsp oil to the cooking water. Drain and set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions. Cook until the onions have softened. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the garlic to the pot and cook using the residual heat for 1 minute longer.
Add the spinach to the pot and return to medium heat. Cook until the spinach leaves have wilted (about 1 minute longer). Transfer the mixture to a plate.
Combine the cream cheese and cream in the pot. Set over medium-low heat. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and heated through. Stir in the salt, pepper, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and the tomatoes.
Add the drained pasta to the pot with the cream mixture. Toss to coat. Stir in the spinach mixture and the chicken.
Pour the mixture into a 9" X 13" baking dish. Top with the mozzarella and then the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Bake until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil the casserole until the top is spotty brown. Transfer the casserole to a rack to cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve!
*To make ahead, prepare through Step 10. Let the mixture cool. Cover and chill until ready to cook. Chilling will add an additional 15 minutes or so to the cook time.