Chicken Pasta Bake with Baby Spinach

I really have to admit I'm more of a dessert person. Hence, it isn't really my fault that I hardly update this blog of mine. If you also notice, I do not have a 'vegetable' label that you can click on. The truth is I actually hate veggies a lot. I try to eat more healthily now that I am staying away from home, no daddy to pick out scallions on my noodles but no one to force me to eat my greens too!

Ever since knowing Aaron and living out all by myself, I kinda picked up lotsa veggies. Among them are napa cabbage, lettuce, celery, baby spinach, zucchini etc.

I still hate things like raw tomato an baby bok choy though. I don't think I'll ever be able to eat those. They taste really awful!

Today, I would like to introduce one dish that we both love a lot. It contains my favourite veggie, baby spinach. Though baby spinach is rather expensive in Aussie, selling at AUD14.99 per kg; we still bought it because I am just too picky when it comes to greens and the fact that I am eating too little green.

I can't cook pasta despite loving it when I just started living out by myself. I would resort to ready made pasta sauces under famous names like Prego's and Leggo's and my favourite would always be whote sauces, carbonara and triple cheese.

Now that I have learned to cook all these, I don't remember when was my last time buying pasta sauce off the shelves of supermarket.

I've used Exclusively Food Chicken and Pasta Bake recipe. I have on many occasions used their recipe successfully. This recipe uses a white sauce base and the only addition I made to this recipe was to add in 150g of baby spinach. I've made this 3 times and have snap stey-by-step pictures the last time I did this. I believe not everyone is familiar with when the white sauce is ready and thick enough.

Also, I only managed to serve 4 people with this rather than 6. It realy depends on how much you can eat. But we are not big eaters really and this only pulled us through 2 meals.

Start off by preparing all the ingredients. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain them. What I always do is the moment I turn off the heat, I place a colander in the kitchen sink, turn on the tap and pour the pasta into the colander with cold water rinsing over them. I then set it aside and let it drain itself from the colander.

I then saute finely choppe dyellow onions in a pan with some oil. I didn't have any bacons in hand so I omitted that.

Instead, I added in more chicken. I used approximately 400g of boneless chicken meat.

I cook until the chicken is ooked through and very lightly brown before dishing them up.

I then saute the finely chopped garlic wih the sliced mushrooms. I like my mushrooms thick and big so I could feel them when I am eating them. You could cube yours if you like. Dish them up as well and use a large pot now. Make sure it is large enough to hold all the ingredients.

Melt butter in a clean large pot and pour in the plain flour as soon as all the butter are melted.

Whisk to form roux paste. Pour in the milk and chicken stock and stir vigorously to avoid lumps.

This is how it should look like, lump free.

Let it thicken on medium-high heat and stir it once in a while. I left it unstirred for 5mins and you could see in the picture above, it started to thicken slightly already.

In the last few minutes, as it thickens further, you might get burnt bits if you do not know how to adjust the thickness. What I learned from many cookbooks is that you dip a wooden spatula in it and draw a straight horizontal line across.

If it stays in place and nothing dribbles over like the picture above, then you are done. If not, thicken further.

Turn off the heat and add in the cheese, salt and pepper. Mix to combine

Add in everything else now including chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Add in the baby spinach last and stir to distribute everything evenly.

Pour into a large capacity casserole. I greased the casserole, I think it helped a little when scooping it out to eat.

Sprinkle cheeses over. I didn't have any mozarella in hand so I substituted with matured cheddar.

It already looked so good before baking, couldn't resist another pic before having it goes into the oven!

And when it's out from the oven, drop everything else and dig in and eat!

I really hope you will try this yummylicious recipe. All credit goes to Exclusively Food!

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