Monday, April 13, 2009

Mexican Chicken Baked Pasta with White Cheese Sauce

Oh my, I really out did myself with this one! It tasted like a big bowl of chicken enchiladas with cheesy queso sauce poured over the top and baked until golden brown! I especially loved the crunchy edges of both the cheese and pasta! I think the chicken and tomato mixture would also be great in whole wheat tortillas with the cheese sauce topping.

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I’m adding this dish to my top pasta dishes along with:

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  • 1 (14-ounce) package rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced (or 15 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 cup tomatillo salsa
For the cheese sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Boil pasta in salted water for 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water and set pasta aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat and mix in chicken, tomatoes, cilantro and sour cream, and salsa. Set aside. foodblog 045

To make the cheese sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. Add cheese and nutmeg and stir until melted. Season sauce with salt, to taste.

Toss pasta with chicken mixture and pour in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over the top. Bake 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling.

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(Alternatively, after topping with cheese sauce you can also cool it down to room temperature, wrap with plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer. When ready to serve, thaw in refrigerator overnight and then bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes with foil on, remove foil and continue baking for 15 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.)

Recipe adapted from Cooking for Real

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Jen (Running with Food) said...

Great recipe. Looks great!

sarah said...

that looks ridiculously delicious! QUESO = YUM.

Tatieva said...

Hum, miam, miam, miam, des pâtes au fromage, j'adore ça !

KLM said...

This has tuna written all over it!!

Danko Family said...

YUM YUM YUM This looks delicious!!!!

Amy said...

Made this tonight. SOOOOOO delish!!! Non-picky kid had seconds and requested it in her lunchbox tomorrow; picky kid ate 2 bites of pasta and one of chicken. This is definitely going in my regular rotation!

Anonymous said...

I can't find pepper jack cheese. Can I substitute is with cheddar, mozarella or any other suggestions? Thank you!

Jessica @ JJsVinBlanc said...

I would use mozzarella in place of pepper jack. Enjoy!

Denise said...

I could be totally missing it (standard these days for me), but what do I do with the pasta water?