Bites of chicken, rigatoni pasta, and artichoke hearts come together with a creamy Parmesan white sauce to make this rich and comforting casserole.
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ⅓ cup yellow onion, diced
- coarse salt and fresh black pepper
- 4 fat cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 pound cubed boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed between fingertips
- 12 ounces rigatoni pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 heaping cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 12 ounces artichoke hearts, quartered (I use jarred, packed in oil and drained)
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- In a large skillet heat a tablespoon or 2 of oil over medium heat and add the onions. Season with a dash of salt and pepper, cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.
- Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. In the same skillet heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the chicken. Cook through, stirring every few minutes so all sides get browned. Remove from heat.
- Cook pasta to al dente in plenty of salted water.
Meanwhilemake the sauce and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook 3 minutes, whisking often. Slowly whisk in milk, bring to a simmer for 3 minutes, whisking often. Turn heat to low, whisk in nutmeg, ½ teaspoon coarse salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper and the parmesan cheese. Turn off heat.
- Generously butter a 9x13-inch casserole or baking pan. Drain pasta, add back to the pan and toss with the chicken, Italian seasoning and onion/garlic. Add about ¾ of the sauce to the pasta and stir well. Pour into the casserole pan and spread out evenly.
- Scatter the artichokes evenly over top then spoon the remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle with the mozzarella.
- Bake 40 minutes until bubbly all over and golden on top. If the cheese starts to get
toobrown cover with aluminum foil. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.
Seasoned with Italian spices, onion and garlic then topped with mozzarella cheese, it’s baked until bubbly hot and golden brown. Mouth-watering, irresistibly delicious.
Confession time. While I usually prefer fresh vegetables over any other form. . . I hate working with fresh artichokes. They’re a pain and a half to clean and by the time I’m done there’s barely anything left.
Instead, I use jarred artichokes packed in oil. They usually have seasoning added too giving them extra flavor compared to frozen, canned and even fresh.
Tip time. I have a new secret weapon for turning boneless chicken into juicy, tender morsels: buttermilk. I now marinate all my chicken beforehand, even if I only have an hour to spare. I also do it on frozen chicken and allow it to defrost in the buttermilk. It makes a world of difference.
This is the kind of comfort food I look forward to eating during this time of the year.
The kind of food that warms you from the inside out like a great big bear hug.
Food that makes you slow down and sit down. Food to savor.
Food for the soul.