Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Chicken, Italian, Main Courses, Pasta / Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Laura wrote in and asked, “What meal would you take to a new mom?”

I think something like this Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes might work. You’ve got two family-friendly choices, pasta and chicken, and your friend can keep it in the freezer for up to three months.

Ah, the luxury of knowing you have a homemade dinner waiting anytime you want it.

There are three things you should know about this recipe:

1.) It makes enough for two 2-quart baking dishes. One for you to keep and one to share. Or, one to share and one to freeze.

2.) If you’re not sure about the mushrooms and/or sun-dried tomatoes, you can replace them with an extra half chicken breast or other vegetables. Roasted red peppers would be good. Artichokes. Frozen peas or corn. Squash. Zucchini. Broccoli florets. Spinach. Lots of ways to go with this.

3.) The recipe doesn’t contain any seasonings beyond garlic, salt and pepper, so it might be a little bland straight from the oven. If that’s the case, you can jazz up the baked pasta with fresh basil, a dash of Cajun seasoning, or chopped scallions or chives. But an overnight stay in the fridge will work wonders. Your friend’s batch will be as comforting as a big bear hug.

Now, send me that baby!

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Adapted from “Everyday Food”

Serves 8

  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.
  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

If you’re freezing the second dish: Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months. To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

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44 thoughts on “Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  1. We brought smoked BBQ ribs to the first time parents across the street (just 2 weeks ago!) cream of turkey and wild rice soup and cookies. The baked penne looks delicious. you could even freeze it before baking and then let them decide when to eat it.

  2. I always take a big crockpot of soup, some really great breads, a stick or two of butter, and some kind of finger-easy-to-serve dessert. Oftentimes the new mom has people bring dinners, but never lunches. I usually give her a choice of soups so she can pick which one they would like best. This dish of yours looks absolutely delicious and I am sure people love to see you come knocking at the door with this!

  3. We brought a roast chicken with potatoes and carrots over to my neighbor when she had her baby. She still swears it was the best chicken she's ever had… it might have something to do with my roasting it upside down accidentally and then turning it over at the end to crisp up the skin. Ha ha.

    1. I've read about roasting chicken upside down and then turning it as a technique! Megan, you're cutting edge, and you probably didn't know it.

      Also, you should move to my neighborhood.

  4. Oh wow! I wasn't expecting this!, Thanks Rebecca (and everyone else for ideas). this looks totally amazing!! I am touched :)

  5. Mmm this looks amazing! I want a big heaping spoonful!

    When my friend had a baby, I mixed up two "lasagnas": a classic lasagna and a Mexican lasagna, and also froze some cookie dough in pre-portioned logs so she could bake 4 cookies at a time. I made labels dictating how to defrost and bake everything, and also recipe cards. It was a fun little labor of love! Here is the post I made about the ordeal:

    1. Look at that organization! It's impressive. We could go to The Container Store and LOSE OUR MINDS!

      The frozen cookie dough idea is pure genius. It would work for so many things.

  6. Sounds delish. I love dishes like this. I like Pioneer Womans baked chicken spaghetti too. There is something comforting about baked dishes. Happy New Year!

    1. Baked pasta just hits the spot sometimes, especially when it's cold outside. I haven't tried baked chicken spaghetti, but we have the unbaked version a lot, so I'll have to give it a go.

  7. I am looking forward to trying this! It's sounds like an ideal winter time dish – perfect for cold nights.

    I like to take spinach lasagne. It freezes well and is one of my favorites. Either that or cookies. Cookies are good. :-)

  8. Though you mentioned the flavor might need a boost it certainly looks good. I'm thinking one big dish instead of two smaller ones. Thanks for sharing and all the sprucing up tips!

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that 2010 brings health, happiness, and more yummy recipes.

    1. One big dish would be delicious. I cut the recipe in half for me and Jeff, and we got three meals out of it. Might do a Cajun version next time.

      Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year! This feels like a good one. ;)

  9. Mmm…creamy, pasta, and sundried tomatos? Yes please! This looks awesome! I'm not a mom yet, but if I had great friends like Laura bringing me food, I'd love anything they brought! (though, appealing to my sweet tooth always earns extra points!)

    1. There's nothing like good food cooked by someone else. ;)

      Don't you love sun-dried tomatoes? I forget to use them, but they're so good in pasta.

    1. Carbs! You've got to respect their restorative powers. When my sister had her baby a few months ago, she immediately demanded fries and a Whopper. Carbs, carbs, carbs!

  10. When I had my daughter my mom made shepherd's pie, one to eat that night and one for the freezer. She also made me individual meat pies. My husband was working long crazy hours at the time and before the baby I wouldn't fix myself dinner some nights. Cooking for one when no one would eat the leftovers is no fun. The meat pies were great when it was just me. Meat, veggies and carb in a handy little pocket. I didn't even need a to use a fork…awesome!

    1. Oh, you have such a good mom! Individual meat pies – that was a labor of love. What a great idea, though! Individual servings. Your mom is a genius.

  11. Since I know a bit about this, I can tell you that first and foremost, anything you fix for a new mom should be low in sodium. And most likely, something that won't aggravate acid reflux (the sundried tomatoes work better than fresh tomatoes). This dish is a good one, though I'd recommend a light hand with both the salt and the garlic. And for me, ix-nay on the chicken, of course. :)

  12. Wow this is SO timely! My dear sister is due with her second child (a niece!) any day now! The logistics we discussed were food related, not delivery related! :) I cooked for her when my nephew was born due to her c-section. Since its so cold right now, I told her the following:
    – macaroni and cheese (we love a particular Martha Stewart recipe)
    – individual meatloaves with mashed potatoes (Ina Garten)
    – Chicken in a pot
    – Lentil Soup (good for energy!)
    Thanks to everyone for the other suggestions – I really appreciate the help, too! :)

    1. A niece! My niece is almost 5 months old. Beware the urge to buy every tiny hat and shoe in view. So much fun!

      I've got to try Ina's individual meatloaves. I've been looking for a good, old-school meatloaf recipe and haven't found anything that hits the spot yet. Thanks for the idea!

  13. I say bring the new mother all the fixings for a martini– gin, olives, vermouth, more gin, ice, a shaker. If there's one thing most new mothers I know need, it's a good, stiff drink.

    However, if they are not disposed to drinking, I think a pasta casserole is very, very thoughtful.

  14. I've read your blog for a while, but wanted to post (finally) because this pasta dish just sounds so yummy! The extra addition of cajun seasoning and green onions is something my family would love.

    As far as new mommy foods… I've taken a quiche with homemade muffins and fresh fruit, baked spaghetti with a bag of salad and bread sticks, individual meat loaves with scalloped potatoes and rolls.

    To me having containers that are disposable is best… that way the new mom doesn't feel like she needs to clean dishes and return them.

    1. I'm so glad you posted!

      Disposable containers – that's brilliant. Who wants to burden the new mom with having to clean and return a bowl or dish?

      And the foods you take all sound delicious. I hadn't thought of quiche, but that's a good one. And now I've really got to find a good traditional meatloaf recipe.

  15. Anything that can easily be portioned out into large or small bits…. casseroles and soups are good. takes care of Mom, Dad and any assorted litttle ones running about…. If there are little ones underfoot, I try to make more for those days when it will be up to Dad to feed everyone.

    Soups & stews are great, and they can be as veggie-filled as you like.
    Enchiladas & manicotti – easy portions to see and split.
    rolls of refrigerated or frozen cookie dough, so all you have to do is slice & bake.

    1. These are all fantastic suggestions. Enchiladas! I never would have thought of them, but who doesn't love enchiladas? Perfect for a little family.

  16. Oh, lasagna is so good. When Mom gets a wild hair, she freezes a pan for me and one for my sister. Having it in the freezer ready to go AT ANY TIME is pure luxury.

    And cookies are always good. A true weakness. I didn't even bake any for Christmas, because I literally can't leave them alone.

  17. I made the penne with chicken this week and my family LOVES it. DH had some of the leftovers today and he said, "I *really* like this." :) I'm putting it on the menu again week after next. Thanks for sharing this recipe! ~~Rhonda

  18. I bring a fruit salad and a bunch of oatmeal cookies to my doula clients. Fruit to keep moms hydrated and oatmeal cookies to help with milk production — and both can be eaten with one hand!

    There is a really good feta-zucchini casserole in a Moosewood cookbook that's nice for bringing to a new mom too!

  19. I made this recipe tonight and it was delicious! I even bought a jar of sundried tomatoes for it. It actually did have enough flavor but am sure the leftovers will be even better tomorrow for lunch. The recipe is definitely going in with the rest of my collection. Thanks.

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