Pesto macaroni and cheese is what you need in your life! A creamy white cheddar base with pesto, chicken, orecchiette, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms.
Wow, life has been hectic! Between work, family, home life, and more work, it’s been hard to find the time to post as regularly as I would like to. I hope that this tasty, tast-Y recipe today will make up for the lack of consistency in posts lately around here! I have some exciting news to share coming soon, hence the reason for being so absent lately!
If this casserole doesn’t become a regular staple on your weekly menus, I don’t know what will! It’s got all that bright flavor of a pesto pasta with that cheesy, creamy goodness that is macaroni and cheese!
Related: Baked Crawfish Mac and Cheese
First, we start off searing some chicken breast and sautéing some mushrooms in a pan with olive oil and butter. Once those are finished cooking, set them aside and begin the main event: the cheeeeeese sauce! Start by sautéing the shallots and garlic until they are nice and caramelized, and your kitchen smells just delish. Then make a roux with some flour, and add milk, allowing to simmer until it begins to thicken. Then you get to do my favorite part: adding all that pesto and cheese! (White cheddar, to be exact!)
Related: Arugula Pesto Couscous Salad
After cooking the orecchiette, you’ll combine all these tasty ingredients with the cherry tomatoes and then throw it into a casserole dish before covering with even more cheese (Parmesan this time!) and baking for 20 minutes. I mean this dish is so pesto-y and chees-y that even my non-pasta-loving husband (gasp!) requested it be put on the menu plan again. And that happens like mayyyyybe twice a year when it comes to pasta dishes.
Now it’s your turn: What is your favorite easy casserole dish for weeknight cooking? Share with me by commenting below! And remember to stay tuned for some exciting news coming soon…
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup prepared pesto
- 1 pound orecchiette
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Season chicken breast generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with olive oil in a medium-sized nonstick skillet. Sear chicken breast for about 4-5 minutes per side, until chicken reaches at least 165 degrees internal temperature. Set chicken aside to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into 1/2 inch cubes.
- In the same pan that you cooked the chicken in, add 1 more tablespoon butter and cook mushrooms until they start to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Cook shallot until it softens and becomes translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Slowly add flour, whisking to combine with butter. Allow to brown for about 1-2 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low and add milk slowly, whisking to combine. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Take pan off the heat and add cheddar cheese and pesto, whisking to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, when water comes to a boil, cook orecchiette to 1-2 minutes before they turn al dente, according to packaging instructions.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cubed chicken, mushrooms, cheesy pesto sauce, pasta, and cherry tomatoes. Stir until combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish, spreading out in an even layer. Top with grated parmesan and cover with tin foil. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove tin foil and turn broiler to high heat. Broil for about 4-5 minutes, until cheese has melted and begins to brown.