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spinach chicken pasta bake on a plate

Incredible Caramelized Onion Spinach Chicken Pasta Bake

Incredible caramelized onion spinach chicken pasta bake made with two full bags of spinach for extra veggies and a creamy, lightened up parmesan cheese sauce. This protein-packed, healthy chicken pasta bake is the perfect weeknight dinner when you're craving something warm and comforting!

Course Dinner, Gluten Free, Nut Free
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken pasta bake recipe, healthy chicken pasta bake, spinach chicken pasta bake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 434 kcal
Author Monique Volz of AmbitiousKitchen.com

Ingredients

  • For the pasta:
  • 10 ounces dry pasta shells (or use rotini, fusilli, or whatever pasta you’d like -- even gluten free!)
  • For the chicken:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • For the caramelized onions & spinach:
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 very large (or 2 medium) yellow onions, sliced
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 10-12 ounces fresh spinach
  • For the parmesan cheese sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat flour or all purpose gluten free flour)
  • 1 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or cashew milk or regular milk)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, gluten free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Spray a 2-quart baking dish or 9x9 inch or 11x7 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, or grease with olive oil or butter.
  2. Boil the noodles until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and set aside.
  3. Cook your chicken: add ½ tablespoon olive oil to a large pot and place over medium high heat. Add in diced chicken, season with garlic powder and salt and pepper; cook for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer chicken to a large bowl once done cooking.
  4. In the same pot you cooked chicken, you can caramelize your onions: add in ½ tablespoon olive oil or butter, onions and salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally; check your onions every 5-10 minutes until they have completely caramelized and turned golden brown. If the onions appear to be getting too dark or sticking too much to the bottom of the pan, then simply reduce the heat a bit. You can also add in a few teaspoons of water to help deglaze the pan. Once the onions have caramelized, reduce heat to low and stir in spinach with the onions; cook until spinach wilts. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl with the chicken.

  5. In the same pot, add in 2 tablespoons of butter and place over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in a little bit of the flour and then slowly add in milk, a little bit at a time, alternating with the flour and vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and stir every so often, until the sauce thickens up.
  6. Once sauce has thickened up a bit, turn off the heat and stir in garlic powder, parmesan cheese. salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Next stir in cooked noodles, spinach and caramelized onions and chicken. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour mixture into your prepared baking pan and spread out.
  8. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of casserole and bake for 25 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serves 6.

Recipe Notes

If you prefer, you can skip the breadcrumbs and the baking of the pasta. We do this often when we want to eat quicker and it's still just as delicious! Feel free to crumble crackers on top if you'd still like a little buttery crunch.

Freezer friendly option: simply make the recipe as directed, except do not bake it with the breadcrumbs on top. Instead, put it in a freezer-safe container pan like these, cover and place in a freezer safe bag until you’re ready to bake. Once ready to bake, thaw out the chicken pasta bake in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, bake as directed!

Nutrition Facts
Incredible Caramelized Onion Spinach Chicken Pasta Bake
Amount Per Serving (1 serving (based on 6))
Calories 434 Calories from Fat 140
% Daily Value*
Fat 15.5g24%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Carbohydrates 50.4g17%
Fiber 3.9g16%
Sugar 3.5g4%
Protein 27.4g55%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.