Easy Cheesy Chicken + Noodle Bake

 I'm a pescatarian, e.g. fish is a yes, other meats are a no. So the version on the right is chicken free.

I'm a pescatarian, e.g. fish is a yes, other meats are a no. So the version on the right is chicken free.

My family isn't big on casseroles, but over the summer I made a cheesy noodle casserole freezer meal for the Feed the Need ministry group at our Church. They sends meals to those going through a difficult time. I decided to give casseroles one more go, making one for church and one for home. 

Miraculously, my children ate it and even asked for seconds. That NEVER happens!

My husband, however, complained that there was no meat and no vegetables. He suggested the additions of spinach and chicken.

 I used one chicken breast and was given the order for "more meat"!

I used one chicken breast and was given the order for "more meat"!

Being the recipe follower that I am, I went with the recipe on the back of the noodle bag. Chicken, artichoke and alfredo noodles.  Again, it was a hit with the kids. (I don't eat meat, but I do eat fish, I'll explain in the recipe how I easily make that work.).

So I decided to try my husbands suggestion and test the waters with the spinach. That was a hard stop for my kids.

"Seriously, why did you have to add salad to it?" was my son's feedback.  So that one was a win for the grown ups and a fail for the kids.

I also tried the Beef Stroganoff and that was a fail for all parties. Texture issues!

 I thought this looked delicious - the colors, the textures... The 12 year old, not so much!

I thought this looked delicious - the colors, the textures... The 12 year old, not so much!

In the end, the core recipe was so easy and versatile. I'm sharing it here for you to try out and adapt. 

Please let me know which versions were a hit at your house, so I can give them a go.

Scroll down for my Easy Cheesy Chicken + Noodle Bake (with or without spinach!) recipe.


Easy Cheesy Chicken + Noodle Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, tendon removed + flattened to even it out - don't totally flatten it!

  • 1 package of dumpling or homestyle egg noodles, cooked per package (I used Mueller's Hearty Homestyle Egg Noodles)

  • 1 package of your favorite pasta sauce (I like Classico Traditional Sweet Basil)

  • optional, 1 package of spinach leaves, roughly chopped (I cheated and froze mine so they would be brittle and easily broken into small pieces)

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced

  • 1 - 16 oz package shredded mozzarella cheese

  • grated Parmesan cheese

  • grapeseed or olive oil

  • salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350, if you plan to serve our casserole immediately after prep.  I like to make the casserole in the morning and then put it in the oven about 30 minutes before I want to serve.

  1. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat a high-walled sauce pan over high heat.

  3. Add two tablespoons of oil and let warm.

  4. Add chicken breasts and saute until cooked evenly (about 4 minutes per side).

  5. Remove chicken and dice into roughly 1 inch pieces.

  6. Heat a little more oil, add diced onion and saute for 2 minutes.

  7. Add spinach and saute until wilted.

  8. Turn down to medium heat. Add pasta sauce. I like to add a half cup of water to the sauce jar, shake that up and pour it into the pan.

  9. Stir until evenly distributed.

  10. Add noodles to the sauce pan, stir until evenly distributed and remove from heat.

    • At this time, I like to make my small meatless casserole. Layer noodle mixture and mozzarella cheese into a small casserole dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

  11. Add the diced chicken, to the noodle mixture in the saute pan. Stir until evenly distributed.

  12. Layer noodle mixture and mozzarella cheese into a rectangle casserole dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

  13. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Please tell me how you change the recipe up. Share your successes and your failures too!