Make-Ahead Creamy Baked Penne with Chicken, Artichokes, Lemon, and Tarragon

Our good friends Annie and Spencer had their first baby girl this past weekend.   Being a new parent is hard enough without having to worry what you’re going to eat that night and then subsequently prepare that meal.  While take-out is always an option, it can old pretty fast (and usually ends up not being very healthy…).

In an effort to do a small part to help out, I dipped into my America’s Test Kitchen recipe vault and pulled a few recipes out of my Best Make-Ahead Recipe Cookbook.  In addition to a Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna freezer meal, I also prepped this recipe that can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Start by bringing 4 quarts of water to a boil in a Dutch Oven over high heat.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt and pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes (the pasta will continue to cook more later in the baking process).  I used whole-grain penne, so I gave it an extra minute or so.

Drain the pasta and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Toss and set aside.

Wipe the Dutch Oven dry, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and set over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the artichokes, onion, and teaspoon of salt and cook until the artichokes are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  If you can’t find frozen artichokes, you can substitute canned artichokes, but you will have to drain, rinse, and dry them thoroughly before using.

Stir in the garlic and lemon zest and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in 1/4 cup of flour and stir constantly until golden, about 1 minute.  Then gently whisk in the broth, wine, and cream.

Add the chicken breasts and bay leaves, partially cover, and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to low, cover completely, and cook until the chicken registers 160 degrees, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and discard the bay leaves.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool; keep the sauce covered.  Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Stir the shredded chicken back into the sauce along with the peas, cooked pasta, 1 cup of the cheese mix and the lemon juice.  Stir until well combined and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture to a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.

If you would like to make this right away instead of freezing it for a later day, bake in a 400 degree oven, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is browned, 25 to 35 minutes.  Sprinkle with the tarragon before serving.

To store and serve later, wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap and then with foil and refrigerate for up for up to 2 days or freeze up to one month.  If frozen, the casserole must be completely thawed in the refrigerator before baking, about 25 hours.  To bake, heat the oven to 400 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.  Unwrap the plastic wrap and foil, but re-wrap the dish in nonstick foil or spray the foil with vegetable oil spray.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until hot throughout and browned on top, about 25 to 35 minutes longer.  Sprinkle with tarragon before serving.


  • 1 pound penne
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 (9oz) boxes of frozen artichokes, thawed, patted dry, and chopped course
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp grated zest
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 breasts)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 8 oz shredded Italian cheese blend (2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons juice from 2 lemons
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves (for serving)

Serves 8

Origin al Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen, The Best Make-Ahead Recipe

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Pasta, Poultry, Recipes

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