SOUTHWEST CHICKEN PASTA BAKE — This spicy chicken and pasta casserole is loaded with southwest seasonings and veggies, all in a creamy cheese sauce that’s sure to become a favorite.
When it comes to feeding my family, there’s nothing better than a hearty pasta casserole, and this Southwest Chicken Pasta Bake was a huge hit with my hungry boys.
It’s loaded with chicken, red peppers and corn, all in a creamy cheese sauce. With more cheese on top, of course. I like to think of it as Tex-Mex mac and cheese.
You can also add a can of black beans for some extra protein, but I have some bean haters at my house, so we left them out. And of course, you can leave out the chicken and add more veggies for a vegetarian version.
I like to use cavatappi pasta in this recipe, but rotini or penne work great too. Really, any kind of pasta works. I just love the shape and texture of cavatappi–it’s so fun and curly!
And is it just me, or does the shape of pasta you use change to flavor of a dish? I know it’s all pasta, but definitely think so!
If you want to tone down the spices a bit, try using Monterrey Jack cheese instead of pepper jack. And if you like things really spicy, and a diced jalapeno or a few extra shakes of cayenne pepper.
This pasta bake is a great way to use up leftover chicken. There are so many things you could add…..and it will still be hearty, comforting and delicious.
This is also a great freezer meal, and always a hit when I bring it to potlucks and other gatherings. If you like you can even serve it with taco toppings like sour cream, salsa and guacamole.
We usually just eat it as is, but we do love to have chips and salsa (and maybe some guacamole) on the side.
My family loved this dish. If you’re looking to spice up your pasta routine, this Southwest Chicken Pasta Bake is definitely a must try.
Be sure to save this Potato Chip Crusted Grilled Corn recipe to your favorite Pinterest board for later.
Tips for Cooking Pasta
Use a big pot: Cook pasta in a large pot–big enough to hold 6 quarts of water per pound of pasta.
Salt: Generously season your cooking water with salt. A few teaspoons per quart of water is a good place to start. Although a little more or less is fine, depending on your preference.
Don’t overcook: Boil your pasta to until it is al dente, which means it’s cooked, but still a bit chewy. You’ll want to test your pasta for flavor and texture every 20 seconds or so during the last few minutes of cooking.
If you’ll continue cooking the pasta in a sauce, or baking it in the oven, remove the pot from the heat a few minutes before it’s done to prevent overcooking.
Here’s what you’ll need to make Smothered Chicken Burritos
- Produce: garlic, red pepper, green onions, cilantro
- Half and Half
- Chicken stock
- Spices: salt and pepper, taco seasoning, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper
- Pepper jack cheese
- Frozen corn
Southwest Chicken Pasta Bake
This spicy chicken and pasta casserole is loaded with southwest seasonings and veggies, all in a creamy cheese sauce that's sure to become a favorite.
- 12 ounces dry pasta
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese divided
- 3 cup chopped cooked chicken
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2-3 green onions, chopped
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook a few minutes more.
- Whisk in the half-and-half and chicken stock. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Stir in the taco seasoning, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add 2 cups of the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the chicken, corn and green onions and mix well.
- Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until pasta is bubbly and cheese is golden. Top with fresh chopped cilantro before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 642Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 568mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 33g
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