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baked ziti with chicken and spinach, or pasta al forno

Baked Ziti with Chicken and Spinach

This baked ziti with chicken and spinach is a delicious and simple pasta dish. The golden brown mozzarella on the top covers the creamy ricotta and tomato pasta on the bottom providing layers of textures and flavors.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian, Italian American
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Stove
  • oven

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb rigatoni, or another short pasta
  • 1.5 cups tomato sauce for pasta see recipe for marinara sauce
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 0.5 lb boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • whole basil leaves, for garnish optional

Instructions
 

  • Cook dry pasta in salted boiling water. Set pasta aside.
  • Heat up olive oil in a large frying pan on stove top. Add cubed chicken and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until just cooked through. Remove to paper towel to drain excess moisture.
  • Preheat oven to 350 deg. In a large mixing bowl, add cooked pasta, cooked chicken, tomato sauce, spinach, ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 0.5 cup parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together. Place into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with some of the remaining parmesan and top with the remaining mozzarella.
  • Place pasta in oven and bake for 25 minutes. If mozzarella cheese is browned, remove from oven, it is done. If cheese is not browned, turn oven to broil and cook for another few minutes until cheese is browned. Let cool for five minutes. Serve with basil and remaining parmesan.
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