This classic dish makes great use of leftover chicken. Whole-wheat pasta and low-fat chicken broth instead of cream or milk make this version a little healthier than what Mom made when we were growing up. Then again, I doubled the amount of parmesan (OK, I tripled it), so it would be extra cheesy.
Once assembled, the casserole can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Serve hot with salad and good bread.
Oil cooking spray
1/2 pound whole-wheat or farro short pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
1 medium carrot, peeled, halved length-wise and thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
5 ounces roasted chicken breast, torn into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup roughly chopped raw almonds, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly mist an 11-cup casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside.
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions, drain, rinse under cold running water and drain again; set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add mushrooms, onion and carrot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add salt and continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms are golden brown and carrot has softened, about 4 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer gently until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer three-quarters of broth and half of vegetable mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. (Be sure to cover lid of blender with a kitchen towel and hold it securely while blending to avoid any hot mixture or steam from escaping.)
Add sour cream, parsley, half of Parmigiano-Reggiano, tarragon, lemon zest and juice and pulse blender until mixed. Return pureed mixture to skillet and toss with pasta, chicken and peas. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish and sprinkle remaining half of Parmigiano-Reggiano and almonds, if desired, over top.
Bake until sauce is bubbling and top is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.
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