I set out to cook an easy baked pasta dish in a single cast iron skillet and after some research and experimentation, I’ve come to a single conclusion. No-boil baked penne is the greatest kitchen hack ever created.
Introducing baked penne with chicken and mozzarella cheese. YES. All you need is one cast iron skillet and some tin foil. The hack is ‘boiling’ the pasta right within the pasta sauce while baking in the oven. No pre-boiling required. I’m REALLY fired up about this recipe because it’s incredibly easy to make and WICKED GOOD. Can you tell?
I was a major skeptic of this method at first. I thought at best the penne might be slightly chewy around the corners or dried out but nope—it was perfectly al dente. You could never tell the difference. This recipe cuts out about 25 minutes of heating up, boiling, straining, and cleaning pots and pans. No fun, not for me. I highly recommend you get a cast iron skillet, it makes this recipe a cinch.
The sauce is slightly thick and sticks to the penne, just like your favorite baked pasta recipe. The trick to no-boil, baked penne is adding 2 cups of water to the sauce before baking. The penne will soak up the water (and all the flavors) and fully cook, leaving you with a sauce that has the perfect consistency.
The parmesan and mozzarella cheese transform this dish to a cheesy gooey sensation. It’s absolutely delicious and hassle free. A perfect hearty weeknight dinner. Can you ever go wrong with lots of garlic and fresh basil?
- 1 pound penne, uncooked
- 1 chicken breast, sliced
- 24 ounces pasta sauce
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 8 ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 6-8 basil leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- In a cast iron skillet on medium heat, combine olive oil and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the sliced chicken and sauté until fully cooked through, about 6-7 minutes.
- Add all remaining ingredients except for the uncooked penne, mozzarella, and basil. Stir until mixed and let heat up, about 2-3 minutes (the sauce will be watery at this point).
- Stir in uncooked penne and evenly distribute throughout the cast iron skillet, making sure penne is fully submerged beneath the sauce. Cover tightly with tin foil and immediately transfer to the oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, remove foil and top with mozzarella slices and fresh basil. Bake for 10 more minutes uncovered or until mozzarella cheese is fully melted. Let cool and serve.
Adapted from Food.com