A creamy, Parmesan-laced sauce is a no-brainer for an easy, cheesy pasta bake. Skip the jar and make your own with sautéed shallot and fresh lemon, picking up all the flavor from the same pan used to cook the chicken. If you have yet to try whole-grain pasta, this dish is a fantastic introduction: The noodles hold up nicely throughout boiling and baking and won’t overwhelm the dish with a strong wheat flavor. Keep whole-wheat panko in your pantry as your new all-purpose breadcrumb; the light, crisp texture will make an excellent crust for fish fillets or chicken breasts.
6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat penne pasta
2 cups stemmed chopped kale (about 2 oz.)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated and divided (about 1/2 cup)
Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add pasta; cook 6 minutes. Add kale; cook 2 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Add to pan; cook 8 minutes or until done. Add chicken to pasta mixture (do not wipe out pan).
Combine milk, flour, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a bowl. Heat pan over medium. Add shallot to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes. Stir in rind and juice; cook 1 minute. Add milk mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add milk mixture to pasta mixture; toss to coat.
Spoon pasta mixture into a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, and panko. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until browned.
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