I saw a recipe on Smoky Mountain Cafe that reminded me of a dish my dear friend Joy made for me a few summers ago. It’s really easy to make and tastes fantastic. It’s a great way to use leftover chicken or turkey. I made a quick roasted tomato, onion, and garlic marinara sauce with mushrooms. It turned out to be a delicious dinner. I loved the tangy sauce and the gooey cheese. If you don’t have the time to make your own sauce, just use your favorite jar of spaghetti sauce instead. I served this baked penne with my house salad and fresh-baked bread.
How to Make Baked Penne Pasta with Mushroom Marinara and Chicken
- 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
- 1/4 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
- 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- 8 oz button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil (for easy clean up) and spray with olive oil cooking spray.
Place the whole tomatoes on the baking sheet, reserving the juice. Insert the garlic pieces into the tomatoes. This will infuse garlic into the tomatoes and will prevent the garlic from burning. Sprinkle the diced onion on top of the tomatoes along with the dried basil, oregano, sea salt, and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are roasted. Don’t overcook or the tomatoes will be dry.
While the tomatoes and onions are roasting, sauté the mushrooms. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.
Once the tomatoes and onions are roasted, place them in the Dutch oven and add the reserved tomato sauce and sugar. Blend thoroughly using an immersion blender. Make sure you blend the sauce BEFORE you add the sauteed mushrooms into the mixture.
Once you have blended the sauce, add the mushrooms and fresh parsley then taste and re-season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, or sugar if needed. Simmer the mushroom marinara for a few hours.
- 1/2 lb of whole wheat penne pasta, cooked per instructions
- 1 1/2 cups of diced cooked chicken breast (turkey would work great too)
- 1/2 cup of mozzarella, shredded (divided)
- 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
Once the marinara has finished simmering, cook the pasta per instructions. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken breast, half of the mozzarella, and as much sauce as you like then mix thoroughly. Place mixture into a baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Spread a bit more sauce on top of the pasta followed by the remainder of the mozzarella cheese, the Parmesan cheese, and then sprinkle with dried basil.
Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for additional 5 minutes. If you want the top golden brown, broil for a minute – watch it carefully or it will burn. Enjoy.