Creamy Chicken and Spinach Casserole

I think I might have a new goal; trying to make as many dishes I can out of the America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook. I have made a handful of recipes so far and they all have been really good. The biggest plus is that they are healthier for you. The newest one I tried was the Creamy Chicken and Spinach Casserole. I ended up doubling the recipe to make sure we had enough for everyone and it doubled nicely. The only thing I didn’t double was the spinach. I felt the one box of frozen chopped spinach I had was just enough for the dish. If I would have added another 10 oz box, it would have overpowered the dish. The kids and hubby really enjoyed it and my son had more than his fair share so I’m glad I doubled it.

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Casserole:

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced thin
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups 1% lowfat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry and chopped coarse. (chopped spinach is also good)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 8 oz whole-wheat penne
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 2 oz)
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat an 8 inch square baking dish with vegetable oil spray and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tsp of the oil in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken, break up any clumps, and cook until lightly browned but not fully cooked, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet and return medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. Return the chicken with any accumulated juice to the skillet. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute. Off the heat, discard the bay leaf and stir in the Parmesan and lemon juice. Stir in the spinach, breaking up any clumps, until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tbs salt and cook, stirring often, until almost al dente but still firm to the bite. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  7. Add the chicken-spinach mixture and reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss to combine. Pour the pasta into prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook


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