This Dump-and-Bake Chicken Parmesan Casserole is a one-dish dinner that's healthy, easy to prepare, and incredibly family-friendly! Just combine the raw ingredients in a pan and pop it in the oven -- no prep work involved!
Optional: fresh chopped herbs such as basil or parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In the prepared baking dish (or in a separate large bowl), stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, salt and rawchicken. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. You want to make sure that your dish is covered tightly so that none of the moisture escapes (the pasta needs to absorb the liquid as it cooks). Bake the covered dish for 30 minutes.
Uncover and give the pasta a good stir. At this point the pasta will still be firm and there will still be quite a bit of liquid in the dish. That's fine!
Spread mozzarella over the top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 10-15 more minutes (or until cheese is melted, top is golden brown, pasta is tender, and chicken is cooked through).
Allow the pasta to rest for 5-10 minutes before garnishing with herbs and serving.
Dice the chicken into small, bite-size pieces before adding it to the dish. It will cook faster this way, and it will be easier to eat without cutting.
Definitely use Panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs. It gives the topping a delicious, crispy texture that's similar to the fried coating on traditional Chicken Parmesan!
Use wholegrain penne and whole wheat Panko, if possible, for some added fiber and nutritional value. If you're like me and you can't find these wholegrain products in your local grocery store, that's fine too!
Stir in some veggies! If your kids like peas, zucchini, or frozen broccoli, stir that into the dish as well! If you’re using a larger vegetable with a longer cooking time (like broccoli), you may want to steam the vegetables first before adding to the dish. For something small like frozen peas, you can just add them (still frozen) straight to the baking dish towards the end of the cooking time.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or fresh basil for a bright burst of flavor!