Strange dreams punctuated by waking up several times a night to find a more comfortable position to sleep in is the usual pattern these days. However, last night was a particularly uncomfortable night as I seemed to have developed a cold and sinus headache overnight. Apparently, another of the wonderful side effects you can expect to have when one is pregnant. So, instead of waking up rested and refreshed at 6:00am, I was asking Aaron to snuggle up to me so I could actually fall asleep. And sleep I did.
I did not hear Aaron get up, get ready, make a smoothie, open or shut the front door, or drive off to catch his train. I slept all the way through till 9:30am! I needed that! I woke up, still quite groggy, but not quite ready to start the day. After a quick breakfast of vanilla almond granola, and a glass of milk, I debated what to make for lunch as I knew I would be starving in no time :) Table for Two Blog came to my rescue. I wanted something simple, tasty, and looked good enough to photograph. This Roasted Asparagus & Penne Pasta Bake did not disappoint. I did adjust the quantities as I was just making it for myself and I omitted the chicken because I was too tired and hungry to defrost the chicken and then cook it. So, this is a vegetarian dish and it was perfect!
2 large bunches of asparagus, tough ends chopped off
⅛ cup olive oil
2 cups penne pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups whole milk (or whatever % milk you like to use)
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the topping:
1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. butter, melted
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
On a large baking sheet (you’ll likely need two) lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, place asparagus into a single layer and drizzle olive oil over the asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I would say about ½ tsp. of each on each sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, cut asparagus into equal thirds.
Turn down oven temperature to 350 degrees.
While asparagus is roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. You want to slightly undercook the pasta because you’ll finish cooking it in the oven.
In a large pot, brown the cubes of chicken with 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat, but don’t cook them all the way through. Remove from pot then add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn the heat down to medium then add in the milk and whisk in the flour. Let mixture thicken, about 3 minutes, then add the chicken back in along with the pasta and roasted asparagus. Toss the mixture together to coat all the ingredients with the creamy sauce, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat and pour into a large 2½ quart casserole dish.
In a small bowl, toss panko and parmesan cheese with melted butter. Sprinkle generously on top of the casserole.
Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until pasta and chicken has been thoroughly cooked through and mixture is bubbling.
Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
I included the original recipe from Table for Two Blog and it serves 6 and takes about 1 hour or so to make.
I only used 1/2 a bunch of asparagus, 1 cup of uncooked pasta, and a little parmesan cheese. I kept the milk and the flour portions the same as I wanted it to be more creamy and not dry when I took it out of the oven.
I baked the whole thing for about 20 minutes and it was perfect.