Meal prep madness continues once again. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that I cook a lot of pasta and have absolutely no regrets. I’m all for carbs and I do eat them in moderation even if it might not seem like I do.
What I love about pasta for meal prep is its ability to freeze. For people who want to prep but are relatively time poor or just lazy, something you can bake and cut into even portions works a treat. Alas, pasta bake is a staple meal for me.
I parked the tinned tuna for the time being and moved onto chicken. My second favourite cooking technique (after baking) is poaching! Poached chicken is a no fail technique for perfectly juicy chicken. I elevated this dish by poaching my chicken in chicken stock! If you do have the time, I would recommend making your own chicken stock (I will put a recipe below in case you’re interested***). Poaching in water will still render you with perfectly juicy chicken so don’t fret if you don’t want to use stock.
So pasta, chicken… what else? This time around I threw in some bacon, spinach and mushrooms to balance out the dish. Then comes the sauce that combines this altogether. My go to for pasta bakes is bechamel. So if this is all sounding like it will tantalise your taste buds, here is the recipe below.
Chicken Pasta Bake (serves 4)
What you’re going to need
2 heaped cups of Fusilli pasta (I have used San Remo)
1 small chicken breast (~150-200 grams)
2 slices short cut bacon, thinly sliced
3 small cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
handful spinach, thinly sliced
cheddar cheese, grated for topping
2 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
- In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock (or water) to a simmer. Place the chicken breast in and ensure it is fully submerged. Cook for 25 minutes
- Whilst the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Set aside once cooked.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the liquid and set to cool slightly on a clean chopping board. Once safe to touch, use a fork to shred the breast meat. Set aside.
- For the bechamel, in a small non stick saucepan, melt the margarine on a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until flour has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk until well combined. Add back to the heat and whisk until mixture has thickened.
- Using the large saucepan used for the chicken (rinse first), add all the ingredients except for the cheddar cheese. Mix well until all ingredients are covered in the sauce.
- In a large baking dish, pour the mixture and spread evenly. Top with grated cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted and darkened (note that the bacon, spinach and mushrooms go into the mixture raw and require cooking whilst in the oven).
- Remove from the oven and either serve immediately or allow to cool completely before packaging up for the freezer.
*** Basic chicken stock recipe
What you’re going to need
1/2 kilo chicken wings/chicken drumsticks/cheap cut chicken with bones
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
12 black peppercorns
salt to season
- In a large pot, heat up some olive oil on a medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned.
- Add all the other ingredients as well as ~2 litres of water (enough to cover the ingredients but not too much excess as this will dull down the flavour).
- Place on a lid then set and forget! (well not completely but for a while). This gets better with time so give yourself a couple of hours minimum to develop a strong flavour!
Chicken stock is freezer friendly so save your leftovers!