Again, as I've mentioned MANY TIMES before, there are 2 things I love:(1) a recipe that's easily adaptable, like my Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad, and (2) a recipe that can be prepped ahead of time (during my little one's naptime) and then just be tossed in the oven. This recipe fits both of those categories PERFECTLY!!! In the morning, I baked the chicken breast & let it cool. Then, while my little one slept, I boiled the pasta, shredded the chicken, mixed it all together, and poured it in my baking dish. Then I just covered it in foil and put it in the fridge. About half an hour before it was time to bake it, I took it out of the fridge (to take some of the chill off). Voila! This is PERFECT because I'm often exhausted by the end of the day - having a toddler will do that to you - so just being able to throw something in the oven is HEAVENLY!
As far as being adaptable, this recipe is TOTALLY adaptable! I used an Herb Chicken Tortellini, but you could use cheese tortellini, or even your favorite refrigerated ravioli! You could also use ground beef in this recipe instead of shredded chicken - or even Italian sausage! Use whatever type of pasta sauce you like too! (I used a chunky mushroom pasta sauce because, well, we love mushrooms!) You could even use a cream-based sauce (like an alfredo sauce) if you like. Throw in some veggies too! - Maybe some green peas! Make this dish your own! :)
(Note: I wanted to make sure we had plenty of pasta (enough for our family of 3 to have this for dinner 2 separate nights and possibly a couple of lunches, so I added half of a 16 oz box of penne in when I boiled the tortellini. You don't have to do that. In fact, we probably had too much, so I didn't even include that in the recipe below.)
1 (20oz) pkg tortellini (I used Buitoni refrigerated Herb Chicken Tortellini)
1 jar pasta sauce (I used a Publix brand chunky mushroom sauce)
1 large chicken breast, baked and shredded
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp basil leaves
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Italian 5-Cheese Blend)
1.) Boil tortellini according to package directions; drain. (My package said to cook for 7 to 9 minutes, so I cooked mine 8 minutes since it was also gonna be baking in the oven. Then I rinsed the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process - because I wasn't planning on baking it for several hours. If you are planning on baking yours right away, there's no need to rinse in cold water.)
2.) Combine tortellini, pasta sauce, shredded chicken, onion, and spices. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. (If you're prepping ahead, let pasta cool, then cover in foil and place in the fridge. Pull it out of the fridge and set it on the counter about half an hour before baking - to take some of the chill off.)
3.) Once you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4.) Take foil off of dish and place in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes (BEFORE placing cheese on top).
5.) After 20 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Place casserole backin the oven and bake another 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Serve with garlic bread and enjoy! :)
Note: This was yummy!!! Even my toddler gobbled this up!!! :)