Hey there! I'm Isabelle, the blogger behind Crumb: A Food Blog, and I’m super-excited to be back on the Mushrooms Canada blog to share another of my favourite recipes.
I don’t know if it’s the weird winter weather we’ve been having or just a serious case of the January blues, but lately all I’ve been craving is hearty warm-your-belly, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. I’m talking pot roasts, chunky stews, and chowders so thick you can stand your spoon up in them… or, in this case, hearty pasta casseroles with loads of bubbly sauce and gooey cheese (and lots of chunky mushroom pieces, natch).
This recipe is meant to be my lazy weeknight tribute to a classic Italian-American dish: chicken marsala. The traditional version consists of pan-fried chicken cutlets in an earthy mushroom sauce spiked with marsala wine, but here I’ve given it a comfort food makeover by tossing all of those same flavours into a deliciously cheesy pasta casserole.
And since an old school casserole calls for an old school mushroom, this seemed like the perfect place to give the humble white button mushroom a little screen time.
Sure, you could go with a slightly more “gourmet” variety like crimini, but I find that plain old button mushrooms add just the right amount of earthy flavour to the sauce, and soak up all the boozy goodness of the marsala (because the best thing about chicken marsala is those boozy mushrooms).
Speaking of boozy mushrooms, I made sure to put an extra-large helping of them into the casserole, so that there’s a little mushroom in every single bite. To round things out, there’s also some crispy bacon, chopped roast chicken, and al dente pasta all tossed in that signature sauce.
And then, just for the heck of it, I nestled an entire tub of baby bocconcini into the casserole to create pockets of gooey cheesy goodness, and topped it off with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Because cheese.
This casserole may not be low-cal, low-carb, paleo or Whole 30 compliant, but it is hearty and flavourful and will warm you right down to your toes.
And, let’s be honest here… isn’t that what all of us are actually craving right about now?
Chicken Marsala Pasta Bake
Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 30 mins | Serves 4-6
1 lb uncooked pasta (preferably a chunky shape like ziti or penne)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 strips bacon, finely chopped
¾ lb fresh button mushrooms, cut into thick slices
½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
½ cup dry marsala wine (or dry sherry, if you prefer)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 cups diced cooked chicken
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tub (200g) mini bocconcini cheese, drained
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes short of the recommended cooking time. Drain and set aside.
3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the bacon, and cook for 5-7 minutes or until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl, and set aside.
4. Add the mushrooms to the pan, and saute for about 5 minutes, or until they start to brown and let off some liquid. Add the onions, salt and pepper and continue cooking for another 7-10 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and all of the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off. Stir in the Marsala and cook until almost completely evaporated, scraping the edges and bottom of the pan to release any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom.
5. Stir the stock into the pan and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and water until smooth, and stir into the sauce as soon as it starts to bubble. Let simmer, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until thick and glossy. Remove pan from heat, and stir in the heavy cream.
6. Stir in the reserved bacon, along with the chicken, parsley, and ¼ cup of parmesan, then add the cooked, drained pasta and the bocconcini cheese. Stir well, making sure that everything gets evenly mixed and the pasta is completely coated with sauce. (Note: if your pot isn’t big enough, you can also use a large mixing bowl for this step).
7. Spoon the mixture into a 2qt oven-safe casserole dish, and sprinkle the top with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately with more chopped parsley for garnish.
Sometimes the weather just calls for comfort! Isabelle brings amazing flavours to a very nostalgic, wintery dish and we can't get enough!! Another big thanks for joining us in our kitchen.