Caprese Chicken Pasta Bake

I love caprese salad.  It somehow makes my love of cheese seem healthy.  I mean there’s tomatoes and basil and balsamic vinegar. That’s healthy right?  What’s not to love?  It has fruit in it.  Yes I said fruit.  Tomatoes are technically fruit.  One of my favorite jokes…what is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?  Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.   Interesting fact:  the vine ripe pink tomato is the official fruit and vegetable of Arkansas.

I think cheese is one of the reasons I could never go completely off dairy.   I don’t think I’d miss the milk.  I don’t think I’d miss the butter.  But the cheese.  Yes, I would miss the cheese.   But back to my original point.  Caprese salad.  So the other day, I had some of the main ingredients for a caprese salad but needed something to make for dinner.  So I combined them all with a chicken breast and some pasta and made this “Caprese Chicken Pasta Bake.”  I baked it because I like to bake pasta…it gets a little crust on the outside. But you could easily skip that step and just eat the pasta.  Here’s what I did.

Boil corkscrew pasta until al dente.  Drain and set aside.


Meanwhile, brown cut up chicken breasts in olive oil in a large pot.


Add cherry tomatoes.


Cook for about 10-12 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes start to burst and cook into a sauce.


Add cooked noodles (by the way, make sure you are using a large pot).


Add pesto.


Add diced mozzarella.  If you are using fresh, just be aware it has a high moisture content and you will wind up with a little liquid in your pasta when it is baked.  You can also use shredded mozzarella which will cut back on that.


Mix to combine.  At this point you can eat it or place it in a casserole dish to bake.


Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees.


Serve and enjoy!


16 oz corkscrew pasta
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
16 oz cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup pesto
1 cup diced fresh (or shredded) mozzarella cheese

Boil pasta until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  In a large pot, brown chicken in olive oil.  Add cherry tomatoes and cook for about 10-12 minutes until the cherry tomatoes start to burst and create a sauce.  Add noodles, pesto and cheese.  Mix to combine thoroughly. Put pasta into a casserole dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees.  Serve and enjoy!