Buffalo Chicken Pasta Rustica

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Rustica

I love buffalo chicken anything, and even as a little kid, I loved buffalo wings and even cayenne flavored potato chips.  The idea for this pasta came to me in a moment of sheer brilliance—total comfort food with all the flavors of spicy wings. 

Last week I bought all the stuff to make this, and then I got sick!  I definitely did not want to try cooking this with an upset stomach for fear that it would ruin my taste for buffalo chicken in the future.  So I waited a few days to make it. 

I used whole wheat gemelli pasta for this, but you can use any short pasta you have on hand:  penne, rotini, even elbows.  I started using whole wheat pasta about 10 years ago, and I don’t even consider buying white pasta at this point.  The exception to this is bucatini, which I can’t find in a whole wheat version except for this kind, but at over $10 a pound, I have to say no. 

You can make and assemble this ahead of time.  After topping the casserole with breadcrumbs and blue cheese, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days until ready to cook.  Just remember if you’re putting it directly into the oven from the refrigerator, you will need to add about 10-12 minutes to the cooking time.

This recipe uses my favorite Basic Baked Chicken, just like so many of my other recipes!  I considered blanching the bell peppers before adding them to the casserole, but I wanted them to have a little crunch and not risk them being overcooked or mushy.  Putting them into fresh gives the whole dish a better texture.

One more thing:  for all of my casseroles and baked pasta dishes, I make and write the recipe so that it will fill up one full sized casserole dish (like a 9×13” Pyrex) plus one small casserole dish.  I do this because we have a big family and always finish leftovers, especially casserole.  If you are making this for 3 people or less, you could definitely cut the recipe in half and still have some left over.

 

Total Time:  2 hours

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 recipe Basic Baked Chicken (4 breasts)3-1

1 pound short whole wheat pasta (such as gemelli), cooked according to package instructions

1 orange bell pepper, medium diced

1 red bell pepper, medium diced

1 yellow bell pepper, medium diced

8-10 scallions, roughly chopped (use both green and white parts)

8 ounces freshly grated white cheddar

1 cup light mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1 ranch seasoning packet

½ to 1 cup milk

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 1/2 – 2 cups crumbled blue cheese

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Dice the Basic Baked Chicken into bite-sized pieces, and add them to a very large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain the pasta, and add it to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add all the bell peppers, scallions, cheddar, mayonnaise, sour cream, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and ranch seasoning packet to the bowl.
  5. Toss the mixture together gently, but mix well until combined.
  6. Add milk a little at a time as needed, until the mixture looks creamy. (It needs to look creamier than a pasta salad.  Adding extra liquid keeps the pasta from drying out in the oven.)
  7. Once the casserole has a creamier consistency, add it to your casserole dishes (or dish, if you are halving the recipe).
  8. Sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs evenly over the pasta mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the blue cheese crumbles evenly on top of the breadcrumbs.
  10. Cover tightly, and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
  11. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncover the pasta, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the top has begun to turn golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven, loosely cover, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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