Let me begin by apologizing for the less than ideal pictures. They were taken quickly, in poor lighting, and with a poor camera. Focus on the pasta, not on the skills (or lack thereof) of the photographer.
This pasta is perfect for this time of year when summer produce isn't quite finished, but you are ready for some warm, gooey comfort food. It is creamy and cheesy, nicely flavored with herbs, and filled with tender chunks of chicken, slightly crisp green beans, and chewy roasted tomatoes. It also reheats well, although it will not be quite as creamy the second time around.
If you roast your own tomatoes in the summer, this is the perfect way to use them. If not, store-bought sun dried tomatoes will work. Just drain them well if packed in oil or rehydrate them if using the dry packed tomatoes in the bags. Also, this recipe, as is, only makes a 9x9 baking dish which serves 2-4 people. If you wish to make more, just double the ingredients and bake it in a 9x13 pan.
I fully intend on making this dish in the fall and winter with broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts, so by no means should you feel boxed in by green beans if they are finished for the year where you live.
Penne with Chicken, Green Beans, and Roasted Tomatoes- serves 2-4
I cooked the chicken for this dish separately and ahead of time. I seasoned one large chicken breast with a little salt and pepper and a sprinkling of Herbes de Provence. Rosemary and a little thyme would work well also. I grilled the chicken until just cooked through. I then chopped it in bite sized pieces. You could use any cooked chicken in this dish.
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped (see note above)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in 1 inch pieces
4 oz roasted tomatoes (or sun dried), chopped
8 oz penne pasta
2 oz mozzarella, shredded
2 Tbsp Pecorino Romano, grated
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Combine breadcrumbs and butter in a bowl and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until just al dente. In the last two minutes of pasta cooking time, add the green beans and boil until crisp tender. Drain the pasta and beans in a colander and set aside.
Return the empty pasta pot to the heat and add the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute. Add the flour, salt, and pepper, and whisk to combine. Whisk in the stock and cream and heat until the mixture boils and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the red wine vinegar. Stir in the cooked chicken, pasta, green beans, chopped roasted tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into your prepared pan. Top with the seasoned, buttered breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese over the breadcrumbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and brown on top.