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+ servings

Cheesy Baked Penne with Chicken and Broccoli

Author - Serena Wolf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 6 servings


  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne Farfalle and ziti are also great options.
  • 3 tablespoons butter You can also use olive oil if you prefer.
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • cups 2% milk
  • teaspoons dried oregano
  • teaspoons crushed red pepper optional
  • cup grated Fontina cheese divided
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese divided
  • Salt
  • 2 cups shredded or chopped chicken breast I used the breast meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken because I had one in the fridge, but you can also roast or poach your own chicken breasts.
  • ¼ cups whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs


  • Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Start by blanching your broccoli. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. (You’re going to use the ice water to shock the broccoli and stop the cooking process). When the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets and cook for one minute until bright green. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to the bowl of ice water.
  • Return the water in the pot to a boil and add the penne. (Yes, you’re using the same water for the broccoli and penne. Conservation and convenience! Whoop.) Cook until just al dente (usually 7-8 minutes), strain and return it to the pot. Please don’t overcook the pasta, people, or it won’t hold it’s shape after you bake it.
  • Moving on to the cheese sauce! Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. When melted, add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Whisk the flour into the butter and garlic to form a roux. Cook, stirring constantly for 1½ minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, milk, oregano and crushed red pepper (if using). Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking regularly, until thickened. This should take about 5 minutes.Remove the sauce from the heat and add 1 cup grated Fontina, 1 cup mozzarella, and ¼ cup Parmesan. Stir until the cheese has fully melted. Taste your sauce and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Add the broccoli and shredded chicken breast to the pot with the penne. Pour the cheese sauce on top and stir to combine, making sure everything is well coated in sauce.
  • Pour the mixture into a medium baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup Fontina, ¼ cup Parmesan, and ¼ cup whole wheat Panko. Transfer the pasta to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  • Serve warm and experience childlike joy.