Lightened Up Baked Pasta


3/4 lb Barilla Campanelle pasta
5 oz. fresh spinach, stems removed
2 T olive oil, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
1 can low sodium chicken broth
3 cups reduced fat milk (I used 2%)
1 large lemon, zest and juice
kosher salt
black pepper
Italian seasoning
garlic powder
1 cup Italian Panko breadcrumbs, divided
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Heat a large deep skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 T olive oil and cook the chicken until no longer pink.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 7 minutes, until just shy of al dente.  Turn off the heat, stir in the spinach, and let wilt for 2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In the same large skillet over medium heat, add another 1 T olive oil.  Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Stir in the flour and cook for a minute.  Pour in the chicken broth and stir until flour is incorporated.  Add the milk, and season salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.  This will take about 10-12 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Taste and reseason if needed.

Add the chicken and pasta mixture to the sauce and toss to coat evenly.  Pour into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs, then 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, then the other 1/2 cup Panko.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bubbly.  Enjoy!

Note:  If you don't have the time to bake the pasta:  Boil the pasta until al dente, toss it together with the chicken and sauce, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.