This is one of those random creations that I put together that turned out well enough that it warrants duplicating. I have a problem with creativity in the kitchen. Stuff turns out tasty, and then I can't remember what I put in it when I want to make it again. That's half the reason I started food blogging! Anyway, back to this recipe. This is a concept that is very adaptable and I think would be totally amazing with some grilled zucchini, fresh basil or roasted tomatoes in the height of summer. I meant to put asparagus in it but totally spaced it...I'll have to make it that way next time. You can also easily prepare it in advance and pop it into the oven right before dinner. I made two pans full of it, one so that I could feed my family at the usual time, and a second for a batch of visitors that were later in coming, and it worked out just fine.
Sun Dried Tomato Penne Bake
1/2 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente and drained (I prefer Barilla Plus pasta)
2 chicken breasts
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 T. each lemon juice and honey
1 cup sun dried tomato strips packed in oil
2 T. butter
1/2 cup shredded real bacon
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup pine nuts
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and grill over medium high heat for about 7 minutes on each side. Before you turn them over for the first time, baste them with a mixture of lemon juice and honey, then baste again right after turning and one last time a minute or so before you take them off the heat. Set aside on a plate covered with foil to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mist a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and pour the drained penne into the pan. Meanwhile, heat up a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and let it melt, then add the mushrooms and saute until just starting to turn golden. Season with salt and pepper, toss in the bacon bits just to heat them up, then pull the pan off the heat.
Pulse the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor until loosely pureed. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips. Stir the chicken breast strips, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and bacon gently into the pasta until everything is well combined. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of it all, then drizzle the cream evenly over the top of the cheese. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top and cover with foil.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and the cheese is melted, then turn the broiler on high and broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese and pine nuts are nicely golden and toasted. Serve immediately. (If you put it in the fridge for a while before cooking, you may need to add an extra 5-10 minutes of cook time.)