Who doesn’t love an easy dinner recipe? We all need easy dinner recipes that don’t use complicated techniques or take too long to get on the table. That’s exactly what you’ll get here with this pesto ricotta bake. This chicken pesto pasta bake is a fun spin on a traditional baked ziti. Baked ziti is one of those crowd-pleasing meals. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it serves a large group of people. But baked ziti can also be a little predictable. Surprise everyone with a pesto pasta bake instead!
This win dinner time because you’re making a meal packed with chicken, pesto, cool ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and rigatoni pasta. Once the chicken breasts cook and the pasta has cooked, everything combines in a casserole dish and bakes until golden browned and super cheesy. You’ll be able to serve your family dinner, or have leftovers for lunch or dinner during the week. A toddler approved dinner as well! Lilly loved this, I cut up the rigatoni noodles for her and she ate this for lunches and dinners.
As the Holiday’s approach you might be planning your Holiday dinner menus. This pesto bake would be a perfect dinner for either Christmas Eve or a Holiday party. Just take a look at the colors in the dish…red, green, and white! This has Holiday dinner recipe written all over it. If you’re serving a larger group of people you can easily make two casserole dishes by doubling the recipe.
What’s great about the recipe card below if if you select the “2X” the card will automatically adjust for you, no need to do any calculations yourself. A pesto ricotta bake will look absolutely gorgeous on your Holiday dinner table this season.
What to serve with Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake?
This dinner is quite filling itself. There’s chicken, pesto, ricotta, noodles, and lots of cheese. In my opinion this doesn’t really need many side dishes to accompany, and you don’t want a side dish that has a strong flavor and either competes with this or the flavors don’t blend well together. I’d suggest either a simple green vegetable or a light side salad.
How to butterfly chicken
Butterflying chicken is a technique I use often. It’s essentially taking the chicken breast and slicing it sideways through the middle so that you can open the two sides like a book. You can then either leave it whole like this as one thin piece of chicken, or cut down the center to create two thin chicken pieces. Here’s a little helpful video on how to butterfly a chicken breast.Print
Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake
Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake combines all the comforting flavors of a baked pasta dish with cool ricotta cheese, robust pesto, and lots of Mozzarella cheese. A crowd-pleasing dish perfect for large dinner parties or Holiday dinners.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 1 casserole dish 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian
5 cups dry mezzi rigatoni pasta
2 medium sized chicken breasts, butterflied
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 24oz jar marinara sauce
1 8oz bag of shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup whole milk Ricotta
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a salted of water to boil. Cook the mezze rigatoni according to box directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, butterfly your chicken breasts, season with the garlic powder and sprinkle with salt. In a medium pan, heat a few drizzles of olive oil. Cook the chicken breasts 3-4 minutes per side until browned and no longer pink inside. I found 4 minutes per side was good for me. I also like to cut into the chicken and make sure it’s no longer pink. Once the chicken is cooked, shred into small pieces.
3. Once the pasta and the chicken are done, pour the pasta into a 9×13 dish or large casserole baking dish. Pour in the marinara sauce and stir to coat all the noodles. Pour in the shredded chicken and stir so it is blending evenly throughout the pasta. Next, cover the entire top of the dish with the shredded Mozarella cheese. Then in spoonfuls, dollop the ricotta cheese over top. Lastly, dollop the pesto overtop. I like to make sure the pesto is spooned on top of the ricotta not just on the noodles. Lastly, sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese.
4. Place dish under the broiler on high until the Mozzarella cheese has melted and is browned and bubbly. This can vary as it depends on how close your dish is to the heat source. Always keep a close eye on something under a broiler since it can burn very quickly. Once browned and bubbly, remove from the oven and take a knife or spoon and gently stir the ricotta and pesto together so it’s slightly swirled.
Keywords: chicken pesto pasta bake