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Chicken Spinach Dump and Bake Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Baked pasta with chicken, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes is one of the best and easiest casseroles you can make. Creamy and filled with cheese this is a weeknight dinner that’s going to become a favorite in your house. Just prep and stick in the oven, and have a delicious meal ready an hour later.

finished pasta bake with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach with a piece of parmesan in the background
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Baked pasta is quickly becoming a favorite in our house. It all started many years ago with a simple tortellini casserole, via my chicken broccoli pasta bake and now we’ve arrived here – at a delicious chicken spinach dump and bake penne pasta with two of my favorite ingredients: spinach & sun-dried tomatoes.

Spinach, because it’s beautiful – and an easy way to “hide” some nutrients in a carby, creamy, cheesy dish.

Sun-dried tomatoes, because they’re just so flavorful. So chopping up these little gems and spreading them throughout a dish like this ensures you get a small flavor explosions with each and every bite.

Best thing about this type of bakes is that you can add a bit of what you like and have in the fridge. Switch the spinach for another veggie, swap the parmesan for another cheese, and use whatever milk or cream is already in there. Make it your own, and make it over and over again.

Why this recipe works

  • Easy to make – you don’t even need to cook the pasta!
  • Pasta cooked in milk & cream & cheese might just be the best kind of pasta
  • Perfect golden crust from two types of cheese
  • Full of flavor from parmesan cheese and sun-dried tomatoes
  • A healthy touch from a good helping of spinach
  • Reheats extremely well – so well in fact, that it’s even better the next day
cut through view of pasta bake with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, with a wooden spoon on top

What you need to make this

  • Chicken – either raw chicken that you cook according to the instructions in the recipe card or any type of already-cooked chicken you have – for example leftovers or a storebought rotisserie chicken. Either way, cut it in bite-size pieces before adding to the pasta.
  • Tomato paste, paprika powder, onion powder, salt and ground black pepper if you’re cooking the chicken from scratch
  • Butter both for frying the chicken and for greasing the pan
  • Sun-dried tomatoes that you chop roughly
  • Dry, un-cooked penne pasta
  • Spinach
  • Cheese – preferably two kinds: a well-melting (and cheaper) kind like mozzarella and a flavorful kind like parmesan
  • Cream – full fat or half n half
  • Milk – any kind you like

Expert tip 1: If using raw chicken, I recommend using thigh filets – they’re both cheaper and more flavorful than chicken breasts.

Expert tip 2: Use the cheese you have and enjoy – but try for at least half of a flavorful kind like parmesan or pecorino and then the other half can be a cheaper kind like mozzarella, or store-bought shredded cheese intended for melting.

Expert tip 3: For less calories you can use less cream, or swap it entirely for half n half. Just make sure the total amount of liquid adds up to the same amount – so if you use less cream, add more milk instead.

When it comes to tools what you need is just your basics:

  • Deep oven dish that’s about 20×25 cm or 8×11”
  • Chopping board and knife for the slight chopping you need to do
  • A frying pan to fry the chicken in
  • Something to mix with
  • Measuring spoons & cups (metric or imperial)

You probably already have all of these things, but if not, below are some suggestions for what to get (the links in the collage below are Amazon affiliate links. If you buy something through one of them, I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you).

How to make this recipe

As mentioned above, this dish can be made with three types of chicken:

  1. Storebought rotisserie chicken
  2. Leftover chicken
  3. Raw chicken

If you’re going for option 1 or 2 you can just skip over steps 1-8 below and go straight to step 9. Otherwise, follow step 1-8 for how I recommend cooking your chicken. Either way, preheat your oven for 225 C or 440 F.

collage showing how to fry chicken in butter and season it

Then to cook the chicken, start by melting the butter in a pan over medium-high heat. (1) Then add in the chicken cut in bite-size pieces (2) and fry for a minute or so to give it some color (3). Then add your paprika powder, onion powder, salt and ground black pepper. (4)

collage showing how to fry chicken and add in tomato purée

Mix (5) and then fry until the chicken has a nice color on all sides. (6) It should be cooked almost all the way through but it doesn’t have to be 100% finished as it will continue cooking in the oven.

When you’re happy with the chicken, shove it to one side of the pan and add in the tomato paste on the other side. (7) Fry the tomato paste a bit and then mix it all together (8).

Expert tip 4: Frying the tomato paste intensifies the taste, so don’t skip this step.

collage showing how to butter a pan before adding uncooked penne pasta, cooked chicken and sun-dried tomatoes

After the chicken is done, bring out your oven dish and grease it with butter using a paper towel. (9) Then add in the raw pasta (10) followed by the chicken (11) and sun-dried tomatoes (12).

collage showing how to add spinach and two types of cheese to a pan before mixing

Add in the spinach (13) and half of the mozzarella (14) and parmesan cheese (15). Then mix well. (16)

collage showing how to add cheese and cream to a pasta bake

When you’ve mixed it all (17) sprinkle over the remaining mozzarella (18) and parmesan cheese (19) and then pour over the cream. (20)

collage showing how to add milk to a past bake before pushing down any pasta sticking up and baking

Follow with the milk (21) and then make sure all pasta pieces are submerged in the liquid. if not, gently press them down below the surface. (22-23) Then place the oven dish in the middle of the oven and bake for one hour. Check once halfway to see that it’s not getting too much color – if it’s getting to dark, just cover with a piece of oven foil. Then bring out, and serve. (24)

top down view of the top of a cooked pasta bake

Expert tips summarized

  1. Use chicken thigh filets if starting the recipe with raw chicken
  2. Use the cheese you have and/or like
  3. Use less cream or use half n half instead of cream to make the dish a bit lighter – but make sure the total amount of liquid stays the same.
  4. Fry the tomato paste to intensify the taste.
a spoonful of pasta bake being taken from a dish full

What did you think of this pasta bake? Let me know in the comments below! And please, leave a rating as well while you’re there!

Enjoy!

Emmeline

cut through view of pasta bake with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, with a wooden spoon on top

Chicken Spinach Dump and Bake Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

5 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 1035kcal

Ingredients

Pan fried chicken

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 500 g chicken thigh filets cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

Chicken Spinach Dump and Bake Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 300 g dry penne pasta uncooked
  • 150 g sun-dried tomatoes weight without oil, chopped
  • 100 g spinach
  • 2.5 dl shredded mozzarella cheese or other neutral cheese that melts well
  • 2.5 dl shredded parmesan cheese
  • 5 dl cream or half n half
  • 5 dl milk

Instructions

Pan fried chicken

  • Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, then add in the chicken. Fry for about a minute and then season with paprika powder, onion powder, ground black pepper and salt and mix well. Fry until the chicken is cooked on all sides.
  • Shove the chicken to one side of the pan and add the tomato paste to the other side. Fry the tomato paste for about a minute and then mix it all together and take the pan off the heat.

Pasta bake

  • Preheat the oven to 225C/440F.
  • Bring out a deep oven dish and grease it with butter.
  • Add in the uncooked pasta, cooked chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Mix.
  • Add the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese on top. Then pour over the cream and milk, and push down any pieces of pasta that are not submerged in the liquid. Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 1 hour. Check once halfway to ensure it's not getting to much color – if it is, cover with a piece of oven foil and keep cooking. Bring out and serve!

Equipment needed for this recipe

Notes

Expert tips

  1. Instead of pan frying chicken, you can use leftover chicken or storebought rotisserie chicken
  2. Use the cheese you have and/or like – you don’t have to use parmesan and mozzarella as stated i the recipe
  3. Use less cream or use half n half instead of cream to make the dish a bit lighter – but make sure the total amount of liquid stays the same.
  4. Fry the tomato paste to intensify the taste.
 
Nutritional information assumes full fat cream is used.
Nutrition Facts
Chicken Spinach Dump and Bake Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1035 Calories from Fat 576
% Daily Value*
Fat 64g98%
Saturated Fat 37g231%
Cholesterol 281mg94%
Sodium 1561mg68%
Potassium 1556mg44%
Carbohydrates 62g21%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 56g112%
Vitamin A 4127IU83%
Vitamin C 16mg19%
Calcium 883mg88%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional information is approximate and automatically calculated, and should only be viewed as an indication.

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