Spencer’s going through a phase right now where he’s incredibly impatient when it comes to mealtime. I know, I know…toddlers are always impatient. But this is worse than usual! As in — he sits at the counter while I pull out ingredients and fusses, cries, or whines until food is on the table. It’s stressful, it’s frustrating, and it makes me want to avoid the kitchen altogether! The evening rush is one of my least favorite times of the day when kids are involved, so quick-prep recipes are a must. This Dump-and-Bake Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta is an easy dinner that everyone loves — and you don’t even have to boil the noodles!
I’ve heard so many other moms express similar concerns — getting a homemade dinner on the table at the end of a busy day can feel like an insurmountable task. There are over-tired children hanging on our legs, piles of laundry to fold, and dishes to wash. Who wants to pull out more pots and pans at that point?! Not me.
That’s why I’ve learned to rely on an arsenal of dump-and-bake dinners like this Tuscan Chicken that require almost no prep work on my part. I can literally stir together all of the ingredients in one dish, put it in the oven, and then move on with more pressing matters. I often give the boys their baths while our meal bakes, I might help the older two with their homework, or I even respond to a few emails. And when we’re done devouring the dinner? There’s only one pan to wash. That’s like the icing on the cake!
This Tuscan Chicken Pasta is a twist on my incredibly popular Dump-and-Bake Chicken Alfredo Pasta Casserole from last year. I added diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and roasted red peppers to an already creamy, cheesy pot of YUM. Now that the veggies are included in the mix, you don’t even have to worry about sides! Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…
If you find yourself dreading the post-work, post-daycare, end-of-the-day slump, then take a weight off of your shoulders. Give yourself a break and throw together a Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta that will make even the fussiest toddler smile!
Dump-and-Bake Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- 1 16 ounce package uncooked rotini pasta
- 1 22 ounce jar Alfredo sauce (about 2 ½ cups)
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups diced rotisserie chicken or other diced cooked chicken
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 4 ounce jar diced roasted red peppers, drained (about ½ cup)
- ½ cup minced sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
- Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs such as basil, oregano, and parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a large 13 x 9-inch baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, Alfredo sauce, chicken broth, chicken, garlic, red peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.
- Uncover; stir. At this point you should check the pasta to make sure that it is al dente (firm but just about finished cooking). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente. Then move on to the next step.
- Once pasta is al dente, stir in the fresh spinach. The spinach will wilt almost instantly as you stir it into the hot pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top. Bake uncovered for 10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).
- Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan or fresh chopped herbs, if desired.
Cooking for a Smaller Crowd? You can cut the ingredients in half and bake the pasta in an 8-inch or 9-inch square dish.
Want to Prep Ahead? Prepare the dish to Step 2 — cover with foil and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it later.