I have a picky eater in my household, my middle daughter. I love her to pieces but she is not adventurous with her eating, but this chicken pasta bake is her absolute favorite. An added bonus is that everybody in our family enjoys it and it is loaded with vegetables!
Chicken Pasta Bake With Spinach and Cauliflower
This Chicken Pasta Bake is a mixed vegetable meal. By this I mean it does have some hidden veggies but also some loud and proud veggies too! I am not adverse to sneaking some veggies into my kids diet as long as there are some loud and proud veggies served too. By loud and proud I mean veggies that are instantly recognizable as vegetables.
For my middle daughter texture is quite a big thing, so she merrily eats this family-friendly chicken pasta bake with spinach even though it is clearly green! But she does steer clear of the overt spinach leaves I also add, but that is ok by me.
Chicken Pasta Bake With Hidden Vegetables
Cauliflower is the completely hidden vegetable, it is puréed and added to the white sauce, spinach is a mixed vegetable. It is in disguise a little puréed into the source but there are also some whole leaves floating around too!
If you are looking to try some hidden veggie recipes for your family, I have a section for this type of recipe on my site Hidden Vegetable Recipes but some of my tried and true recipes would be my ultimate hidden vegetable lasagne or my healthy macaroni cheese.
I like to make the roux/white sauce for this chicken pasta bake with a 50:50 mix of milk and stock, I just find it increases the flavour factor and makes the dish a little lighter, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.
Chicken Pasta Bake - Family Friendly
Yield 8 Servings
This chicken pasta bake is family friendly and has a healthy style with its high vegetable content of Cauliflower and Spinach add
- 3 cups uncooked pasta (300g)
- 300g sliced chicken breast
- 400g cauliflower
- 3 handfuls spinach
- 30g butter
- 3 Tbsp flour
- ¾ cup milk
- ¾ cup stock
- 1 Cup grated cheese (100g) + additional for the topping
- (Pasta) Pop on a large pot of water to boil- once boiling cook the pasta as per the packet directions, but while this is happening you can move on to the other steps
- (Chicken) Heat a pan and brown your chicken
- (Veggies) Cut the cauliflower into florets, add to a second pot, cover with water and bring to boil (leave to boil until tender)
- (White Sauce ) Add butter to a third smaller pot, heat over a medium/low heat until melted
- (White Sauce ) Heat your milk and stock (you don't have to, but the sauce making is much faster with warmed milk and stock)
- (White Sauce ) Add the flour to the pot and cook off for the basis of your roux/white sauce
- (White Sauce ) Gradually add the milk and stock to create a thick velvety sauce
- (White Sauce )Add cheese to the white sauce and allow to melt into the sauce. Once done remove from the heat (you do not want a white sauce to boil, as it goes runny)
- (Pasta) Remeber to check back on your pasta water and cook your pasta as per the packet instructions, once ready drain thoroughly
- (Veggies) Remember to check on your cauliflower, once tender add 2 handfuls of spinach to the pot and let steam until wilted for a few minutes.
- (Veggies) Drain the water from the cauliflower and spinach, blend to create a purée (I use a stick blender to do this)
- Add the purée to the cheese sauce and mix (do this in whichever is the bigger pot, ie the white sauce pot or the cauliflower pot
- Mix the sauce mixture and with the cooked pasta and browned chicken, add one more handful of spinach if desired and mix through
- Pop the pasta mix into a baking/lasagna dish, top with grated cheese
- Bake in an oven at 180 degrees for 30-35mins, until cheese, is melted and golden
- I tend to use a strong tasting cheese in the sauce, and a melting cheese like mozzarella on the top- but you can do what you want
- We are a relatively low salt household, and I find with the cheese and stock this dish is fine for our palates without additional salt, but you may wish to add more seasoning for your family
- This meal is great the following day, We often have it 2 nights in a row. So one big cooking effort on the first night, then just a reheat job on the second.
- I tend to use a chicken or vegetable stock in this recipe
Serving Size 1.5 Cups
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 13.3 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Cholesterol 61.3 mg
Sodium 320 mg
Total Carbohydrates 34.2 g
Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
Sugars 3.5 g
Protein 22.6 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.