This velvety pasta is tossed with chicken and colorful veggies, then topped with a crunchy, cheesy panko topping – your fami ly will never believe this delectable meal came out of your freezer!
Olive oil cooking spray
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp unsalted garlic and herb seasoning
1 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, divided
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 lb asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 oz whole-grain farfalle pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp organic unsalted butter
1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour (Try: King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour)
3 1/4cups whole milk
3 1/2 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
5 tbsp whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
16 small basil leaves for garnish, optional
Position oven rack 6 to 8 inches from heat and preheat broiler to high. Line a large baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray. Place chicken on foil and mist with cooking spray. Sprinkle garlic-herb seasoning and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper evenly on both sides. Broil until center is no longer pink and temperature registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes per side, depending on thickness. When cool enough to handle, chop into 3/4-inch pieces and set aside. (Tip: Chicken may be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool and refrigerate in an airtight container.)
Set oven to 350°F. Mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Mist a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. To skillet, add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme and 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper and cook until softened and very juicy, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Remove skillet from stove top, mist again with cooking spray, then return to heat on medium-high. To skillet, add asparagus and 1/8 tsp each salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring once or twice. Add 1/3 cup water and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until asparagus is lightly browned and crisp-tender and water has evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes. Add to bowl with tomato mixture.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. In a colander, drain pasta and set aside. With a kitchen towel, carefully wipe out pot. To pot, add oil and butter and heat on medium until butter starts to bubble slightly. Add flour and stir until completely absorbed, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Increase heat to high and continue whisking, breaking up any clumps of flour, until milk comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened (consistency will be similar to heavy cream), 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove pot from heat and stir in mozzarella. Stir in pasta and remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper; then stir in chicken and vegetables. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine Parmesan and panko. Sprinkle evenly over pasta. Cover with foil and bake in center of the oven until sauce starts to bubble, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and turn on broiler to high. (NOTE: Baking dish should still be on the center rack.) Broil until topping is lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with basil (if using).
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