‘lighter' chicken pasta bake
 

 

This comforting bake is packed with vegetables and protein-rich chicken, making it a good choice for a healthy dinner. For people following a diet of 1200–1500 calories a day, this is a filling dinner choice. 

Each serving provides 440 kcal, 37g protein, 47g carbohydrates (of which 13g sugars), 10g fat (of which 2.5g saturates), 8.5g fibre and 1g salt.

750–800g/1lb 10oz–1lb 12oz whole cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 chicken stock cube
250ml/9fl oz semi-skimmed milk
40g/1½oz Parmesan, finely grated
175g/6oz dried penne or other short pasta shape
200g/7oz broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 300g/10½oz), cut into 15-mm/⅝-in strips
½ onion, finely chopped
200g/7oz cherry tomatoes, halved
freshly ground black pepper

Place the cauliflower florets into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Crumble the stock cube on top and bring to the boil. Cook for 8–10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very soft. Drain, reserving the stock water, and return the cauliflower to the saucepan. Add the milk, 200ml/7fl oz of the reserved stock and half the Parmesan. Blend with a handheld blender or transfer to a food processer and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Half-fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta, return to the boil and cook for 8 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until the pasta and broccoli is tender. Drain and return to the saucepan. Add the tomatoes and toss together. Stir in the cauliflower sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Stir-fry the chicken and onion for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Tip half of the pasta mixture into a 2 litre/3½ pint shallow ovenproof dish. Top with the chicken mixture and then spread all of the remaining pasta mixture on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan and season with pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.