HEART-TOPPED PENNE MARINARA PASTA BAKE

Hey there, friend!

This flavourful and cheesy (in more ways than one!) pasta bake is the PERFECT dish to serve to your loved ones on Valentine’s Day, or any time you want to show them how much you care. And bonus – it’s incredibly easy to make!

What inspired this recipe? Well, it’s always easy to be inspired by Kaslo Sourdough pasta (this recipe is a paid partnership with my friends at Kaslo, by the way!), but I also wanted to show you how to use Kaslo’s macaroni noodles as a penne. Obviously, you can use whatever shape you like in most pasta dishes, but I love a good penne pasta bake, and is it strange that I think penne is a somewhat ‘romantic’ noodle? Maybe because it’s the easiest to eat and doesn’t cover your face in sauce! Anyway, I think Kaslo’s macaroni noodle is a perfect stand in for penne or even rigatoni, if those are your favourite shapes, so I wanted to show you how this noodle holds up outside of a classic mac ‘n cheese or pasta salad. Spoiler alert – it works great!

And what inspired the heart motif topping? I love heart-shaped anything! It’s true – even my engagement ring has hearts on it! Tristan knows me pretty well, and that’s why… he joined me for this recipe!

We wanted to create a dish that the whole family would love, so we kept it simple with chunks of perfectly-seasoned chicken, my favourite tomato marinara sauce, TONS of gooey cheese, and the pièce de résistance: an adorable heart-shaped topping. Not only does this dish taste fantastic, it’s so IG worthy it’s not even funny. There’s a special trick to keeping those hearts from simply disappearing into the cheese, so be sure to read to the end to find out how you can get this on the table for Valentine’s Day, or even tonight!

INGREDIENTS

Servings: 6-8

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

For the pasta:

  • 4c. Kaslo Sourdough Classic Macaroni
  • 1 jar Classico Sweet Basil Marinara
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic (minced)

For the chicken:

  • 2 fully thawed boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1tbsp. onion powder
  • 1tsp. chili powder
  • S&P
  • Butter

For the topping:

  • 1c. grated mozzarella
  • 6 mozzarella sandwich slices

Optional:

  • Parmesan
  • Fresh Italian parsley
  • S&P

METHOD

Remove chicken breasts from the fridge and allow to sit for 30 minutes before cooking.  This will help it cook more evenly, and it will get a crispier outside. BUT, don’t push your luck: chicken cannot sit out for more than 2 hours before it becomes a health hazard. Don’t forget about them, and make sure you’re ready to cook after those 30 minutes are up (set an alarm). Do not rinse or wash your chicken.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Strain, and set aside.

Slice chicken into bite sized chunks. In a dish, combine spices and thoroughly coat chicken chunks. Don’t be shy with the spices!

Add the chicken to a pan preheated with a pat of butter, and cook 5-7 minutes. Turn, and cook 5 minutes more.

Add your chicken to a glass or ceramic oven-safe dish.

Dice onions finely, and add to dish. Add pasta noodles, sauce, minced garlic, and stir thoroughly.

Top with grated mozzarella, and bake 30 minutes uncovered, until the pasta bake is bubbling and golden brown.

While the pasta is in the oven, carve 6 hearts out of your cheese slices. You can freehand it, or try using a drinking glass – you’ll get the hang of it soon enough! Once the pasta bake is removed from the oven, lay the cheese slices on top, and cover with a sheet of foil for 3 minutes to just barely melt them.

Serve with crusty garlic bread, salad, or on it’s own!

How sweet are these hearts?

Another winning dish with Kaslo Sourdough!

And we are delighted to pair this dish with the lovely Arrowleaf Cellars! We chose the Field Collection Red, a medum-bodied wine with notes of vanilla and dark cherry, that will meld perfectly into dessert after you finish your pasta.

Arrowleaf is a gorgeous winery in Lake Country, B.C. (where I was born and raised!), overlooking beautiful Okanagan Lake. It is one of my favourite wineries in our region, and I am so happy to share their wines with you.

Sprinkle with some Italian flat-leaf parsley and parmesan once plated!

I hope you enjoyed this love-filled recipe, my friend! Please give me and Kaslo a follow on Instagram to keep up with new products and recipes via social media! And don’t forget to drop your email address in the box below so you can receive all of my latest posts straight to your inbox.

If you came to this post looking for a Valentine’s day recipe, Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

xo, Jamie

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