For the last five years, it has been my mission in life to find a chicken spaghetti recipe that doesn’t use cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup and Velveeta cheese. While I am absolutely on board with indulging in that decadent version on occasion- annually at The Fair, for example- I wanted a healthier recipe that uses more whole ingredients and fewer canned ones.
While I wouldn’t necessarily call this recipe healthy, it does have a few points in its favor. First, it’s easy. The sauce comes together on the stove in the time it takes to cook the pasta; thirty minutes in the oven and you’re done. Second, the recipe can be modified to accommodate your preferences and what you have on hand; you can sneak in some vegetables or switch out the cheeses. Lastly, this thing freezes beautifully. Make a double batch, stick half in the freezer, and your work is done.
-3 cups of chicken, cooked and shredded
-1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti (psst- I usually use whatever I have on hand, which is often not spaghetti)
-1 onion, finely diced
-6 tbs. butter
-4 tbs. flour
-1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. pepper
-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
-1 1/2 cups chicken broth
-1 cup milk
-1 can Rotel tomatoes
-2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided ( I typically use some sort of fiesta blend; any variety of cheddar would be fine)
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package instructions, but cut the time by a minute or two; the pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
While pasta is cooking, melt two tablespoons of butter in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook about five minutes. Add remaining butter, flour, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using. Whisk until the flour is dissolved and then cook for two minutes. Slowly add chicken broth and milk, whisking to combine. Cook 3-5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
In a large bowl, combine drained pasta, chicken, sauce, Rotel, 2 cups of cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Mix gently but thoroughly until sauce evenly covers pasta and cheese is melted.
Transfer pasta mixture to a greased 9 x 13 dish- or, like me, one glass 8 x 8 dish for immediate baking and one foil 8 x 8 pan or gallon Ziplock bag for freezing- and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheeses over the top and bake 15 minutes more (if you’d rather, you can skip adding the cheeses halfway through baking and instead sprinkle a tablespoon or two over each individual serving).
To bake a frozen dish: remove from freezer and let thaw in fridge for several hours. Remove all foil or plastic wrap and bake according to instructions above.
I want to know: what decadent, guilt-inducing main dishes would you like to remake?