A nearly effortless pasta bake with all the flavors of the classic summer salad!
Who doesn’t love Caprese? It’s a longstanding summer classic and while that can be attributed to its simplicity, I think that most of the draw is that incomparable trio of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil – drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar of course. Well, we’ve taken that trio and translated it into a ‘dump and bake’ casserole that’s not much more effort than the original, but still has the flavor you know and love, bumped up with a little pasta and protein to boot.
When I say ‘dump and bake’, what I mean is that your kitchen tasks stop there. You literally just dump the ingredients into a casserole dish, give it a stir, and let it bake until the pasta is tender and the flavors have blended together beautifully. Okay, there is some slicing of the tomatoes, and grating of the mozzarella, but you’re looking at five minutes of effort tops. You don’t even have to boil the noodles.
That’s because the noodles cook in a mixture of broth, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and mozzarella. As the dish bakes, those flavors come together to create the sauce of this casserole, and they also leave the penne perfectly tender. Since the beauty of a casserole is that it’s a meal-in-one, we’ve thrown in some chicken to keep things reasonably hearty.
The finishing touch is a topping of a little more mozzarella, some sliced grape tomatoes, and fresh chopped basil to really lock in that traditional Caprese flavor. It’s a bake that lets you have the taste of the classic summer salad any time of year, and if it were any easier, well, it would cook itself.
Chicken Caprese Casserole
Serves 6 1 hour
- 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
- 3 cups uncooked penne pasta
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated and divided
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 425°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Add the chicken, uncooked pasta, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and 1 cup mozzarella to the baking dish and stir until combined.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, stir, and check to see if pasta is al dente. If it's still too firm, cover and return dish to oven until pasta is just tender, but not mushy.
- Once pasta is al dente, sprinkle remaining mozzarella over uncovered dish and top evenly with grape tomatoes. Return to oven and bake until cheese has melted and tomatoes have browned slightly, 10-12 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh basil and serve. Enjoy!
Adapted from The Seasoned Mum.