Mediterranean Penne Pasta a One Dish Meal
This easy Mediterranean inspired chicken and penne pasta dish was a happy accident in my kitchen. It was one of those moments in my kitchen where I had bits and pieces of ingredients, but I had to get creative about how to stretch them into a pasta bake. I had roasted chicken, left over pasta from another project, spinach that was closing in on it's expiration date, a handful of sun dried tomatoes, half a jar of prepared basil pesto....and a couple of jars of Alfredo sauce in my pantry. Voila, dinner on the stovetop and nothing goes to waste.
Helpful Tips for Making Mediterranean Chicken Penne Pasta
The beauty of this dish, is, if you're hard pressed for time it could be finished completely on the stove top and sprinkled with Parmesan and a few toasted pine nuts for crunch, just before serving. It makes life so much less stressful when you can prepare a dish that's simple and versatile.
- You can leave leftover grilled, roasted or poached chicken for this recipe. I tend to have rotisserie chicken often in our fridge so, that's what I use most often.
- You can use any brand of prepared pesto that you enjoy.
- I highly recommend rinsing and soaking the sundried tomatoes for a few minutes if time allows. This will allow them to soften and remove some of the oil they're packed in. The flavor will be enhanced and not dominate the pasta.
- Lighter dairy works beautifully in this recipe including the alfredo sauce. Use a quality brand for the best end result.
- Other easy pasta recipe to try: Cajun Chicken Pasta with Andouille, Asian Sesame Chicken Pasta and stovetop Spaghetti Carbonara.
- You may also enjoy this recipe for Homemade Hamburger Helper from the Novice Chef.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Easy Mediterranean Chicken Penne
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp each salt and black pepper adjust to taste
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 15 oz jars light creamy Alfredo sauce any brand, I used Classico
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup ⅓ less fat chive and onion cream cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup basil pesto
- ⅓ cup sun dried tomatoes rinsed
- 3 cups roughly chopped roasted chicken
- 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese divided use
- 4 cups cooked penne pasta
- 1 6 oz package baby leaf spinach
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs or Italian cracker crumbs
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 12 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large stove top pot over medium-high heat, cook diced onion in a couple of drizzles of olive oil until it's translucent and beginning to brown. Season with salt and black pepper to your taste then add the crushed red pepper flakes.
- To the pot add both jars of Alfredo sauce, ½ cup of milk, and cream cheese.
- Mix well, then simmer uncovered on low heat, stirring just until the cream cheese melts.
- To the pot add Parmesan cheese, basil pesto, sun dried tomatoes, chicken and 1 ¼ cups of shredded cheese. Mix well.
- Add the cooked penne pasta and the baby spinach. If you'd like the sauce a little thinner, add extra milk. [Tip: At this point, you could skip the oven and serve this dish as is....Stir all of the cheese into the mixture and simmer on the stove top until heated through. Then sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese just before serving. For a little crunch, top with toasted pine nuts.]
- Pour the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella on top.
- Toss together crumbs and butter, sprinkle over cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden and the edges are bubbly.
- Serve immediately.