About this recipe:This is a twist on a classic Middle Eastern bechamel pasta. It consists of chicken breast, penne pasta, vegetables and herbs, and is topped with a luscious béchamel sauce and mozzarella cheese. Baked until nice and bubbly.
500g dried penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets - cubed
75g frozen peas
1 bunch coriander
3 sprigs 3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
170g Italian tomato puree
salt and pepper to taste
5 tablespoons butter
1 chicken stock cube
5 tablespoons plain flour
black pepper to taste
225g grated mozzarella cheese
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Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil, cook the penne pasta 10 to 12 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and saute the onion, green pepper and garlic until tender. Stir in the chicken, and cook until almost done. Mix in the peas, coriander, dill, tomato puree and enough water to make a thick sauce. Continue to cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, and all the ingredients are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Dissolve the chicken stock cube in the melted butter. Stirring constantly, blend in the flour until smooth. Mix in the milk, season with pepper, and continue to cook and stir until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
In a bowl, mix the cooked pasta with 1/2 the bechamel sauce. Place 1/2 the pasta in a baking dish, layer with 1/2 the chicken mixture, and 1/2 the mozzarella cheese. Layer with the remaining pasta, remaining chicken mixture, and remaining bechamel sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until bubbly.