A lot of people hear “casserole” and turn up their noses! But a casserole doesn’t have to be a bland batch of boxed goods thrown together – and one can really save your bacon when you have last minute company or just need something easy to cook. This Chicken Parmesan Pasta Casserole is a family favorite and we have it on frequent rotation – frequent enough that we keep one in the freezer ready to go when we need a fast dinner option!
I make a ton of casseroles, but we don’t often cook them at home. We make them and hand them off to friends, though we usually have one or two ready to go in the freezer for when friends come over or when we just need an easy dinner ready to go.
And each time we break one out and cook it up, I wonder why we don’t make them more often. They’re easy and delicious and perfect for the nights where you want to serve something homemade and healthy(ish) without doing a lot of work.
Casseroles are a staple in the Army and I think every Army family has to know how to make at least three different kinds. They’re perfect for dropping off to help out the family that has just had a baby or that is home sick or to break out for that potluck dinner or large dinner party that either happened at the last minute or you forgot about. Often the latter.
I have to say, my favorite thing about living in the DC area has been, “Hey, Kris, I’m in town for three days, do you have time to catch up or grab a drink?” Because literally everybody comes here for one reason or another. And often, rather than go to a restaurant where everything is DC prices even if it is good, I usually ask if they want to come by the house, have a home cooked meal, drink wine and catch up, meet my husband and son if they haven’t already, and crash in our guest room. That’s usually a resounding yes. Which gives me about an hour for them to grab their stuff and take an Uber to the house and for me to get food in the oven.
This dish was a favorite for last minute hosting just because it’s one of my favorites to make, freeze, and either pull out and bake at the last minute or, lately, to ding-dong-ditch with friends during this quarantine who have been feeling overworked or overwhelmed or needed some additional help. Throw it in the oven for 15-20 minutes and you’ve got a delicious dinner. How great is that? I always have one or two of these in the freezer ready to go.
But I just had a chance to whip up a couple more of these dishes since I just found out a good friend of mine is expecting and while she’s past the morning sickness months, she’s moved into the months where you just don’t feel like doing anything but napping. So I’ve made a couple of these for her to just throw in the oven and enjoy and packed them in a cooler that I’m going to ding dong ditch for her along with a box of maternity clothes.
Little bits of happiness in these crazy times mean so much.
[lt_recipe name=”Chicken Parmesan Pasta Casserole” summary=”A casserole doesn’t have to be a bland bunch of boxed goods thrown together. This Chicken Parmesan Pasta Casserole is a family favorite and one we have on frequent rotation, because it’s easy, cheesy, and delicious!” servings=”8″ total_time=”45M” print=”yes” image=”https://homefrontcooking.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Chicken-Parmesan-Pasta-Casserole-0622-1024×683.jpg” ingredients=”2 cups chicken, cooked;1 jar marinara sauce;4 cups any type cooked pasta, drained;1/2 cup diced tomatoes;1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese;1 cup grated parmesan cheese;fresh basil, chopped” ]Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter or olive oil.;Combine the cooked pasta, cooked chicken, diced tomatoes, and the marinara sauce. Pour into the prepared baking dish. At this point, if you need the dish later, you can freeze it.;When you’re ready to cook the dish, top with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan.;Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the cheese are bubbly.;Top the dish with fresh chopped basil or parsley and enjoy![/lt_recipe]
Here’s a couple tips that might help you get started:
- Need some great baked chicken, make these without the breading: Baked Panko-Breaded Chicken Parmesan
- Out of marinara sauce? Make my pantry ingredient version: Pantry Marinara Sauce
- You can use any kind of pasta you like in here, but I use either medium shells or bowtie
- Everything in this recipe can be made from a pantry staple, but I do like to dice fresh Roma tomatoes in here when I can, and I love chopping some fresh herbs over the top – and I often do, because I have them growing in a pot on my back porch
Thanks to my husband for being my hand model in the last shot as well!
Hit me with your favorite casserole recipes! You know they’re awesome!