I have a bad habit. When I am cooking for a crowd, I tend to prepare far more food than can possibly be necessary. I come by it honestly though. My mother is notorious for adding large additional items to a menu at the last minute. My boyfriend can attest to the fact that I carry the same gene. We’ll be having a bbq and planning on serving burgers and then an hour beforehand I’ll start worrying that people might want more than one burger each and we should do a few pounds of sausages and maybe a rack of ribs.
Easter was an excellent example of this. The recipe I used for the chicken suggested cooking two 4 pound chickens for eight people. As I had nine people coming, for some reason I decided to buy two 5.5 pound chickens. Because you know, that extra person might need three pounds of meat.
I don’t always make the most logical decisions when it comes to cooking for a crowd. But, on the plus side, I really like leftovers. Despite sending home leftovers with all my guests, I still had a bunch of chicken. Luckily, a few days later I came across this great recipe for a Spinach, Chicken, and Noodle casserole from Real Simple. It looked perfect.
This was just the perfect thing to do with my leftovers when the weather turned cold again after our beautiful Easter weekend. The casserole was creamy and comforting. I tossed in about 1.5 cups of broccoli as well because I had it in my fridge, and the extra vegetables made me feel better about all the sour cream.
Per my examples at the beginning of this post, the casserole made far more than two people could ever eat. We had it for days, but it was delicious, so I didn’t mind.
I think this will be an excellent base for future pasta bakes. It could have used a little more zip and pizazz, but it was comfort food and I quite enjoyed it with a little hot sauce on top.
(On that note, I haven’t mentioned it before but I’m completely obsessed with Aardvark Hot Sauce. http://www.secretaardvark.com/
If you haven’t had their habenero hot sauce, you are missing out. I want to eat it on everything these days.)
As a side note, I have to say that I am constantly amused by cooking times on recipes. I picked this one because it looked good, but it also said I could be eating in 40 minutes. Apparently these cooking times are for people that are not me. These must be for people who already have chopped up chicken, clean vegetables, and clean kitchens ready to go. That is not me. I had to clear dishes and mail off my counter, pull chicken off the bone, and chop vegetables. I still had dinner in about an hour, but the moral of the story is that it takes longer to cook than the suggested times unless you are Rachael Ray. I mean really. Who else is organized enough to wash all their vegetables when the get home from the grocery store before they go in the fridge?
I hope you try out this delicous Casserole. Enjoy!
Spinach, Chicken, and Broccoli Noodle Casserole
Serves 8| Hands-On Time: 35m | Total Time: 1 hour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 cup sour cream
kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces egg noodles
2 cups shredded cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
5 ounces baby spinach, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Panko for topping
1. Heat oven to 400° F. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes (do not let the mixture darken). Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
2. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions. Add the broccoli the last minute of cooking. Drain and return all to the pot. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
3. Add the milk mixture, chicken, spinach, and thyme to the noodles and broccoli and toss to combine. Transfer to a buttered 9-by-13-inch or some other 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the panko, and drizzle with the melted butter.
4. Bake until the panko is golden and the filling is bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.