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Friday, March 9, 2012

chicken, spinach and noodle casserole

One of my readers told me that she was getting a little tired of looking at my recipe for vegetable scraps pasta sauce for 8 days straight.

Since I didn't feel it was polite to say "What, are you new? Read my blog in a reader, and you won't have to check the website 8 times to find out if there is anything new," instead I said, "Sorry Mom. I just haven't made anything interesting lately."

And that is how I am justifying giving you this recipe, straight out of Real Simple magazine, for a very plain, very ordinary chicken and spinach casserole.

Don't get me wrong. It's good. It's hearty and filling and easy and can be made ahead, and it is a lovely, comforting, crowd-pleasing, kid-friendly, casserole. I plan to make it again, and I know the family will appreciate it.

I had chicken an spinach salad for dinner on Tuesday evening, so I went ahead and cooked extra chicken and washed extra spinach while I was at it. That made everything very easy Wednesday evening, when I made this casserole.

The coarse bred crumbs are made by pulsing a few slices of bread in a food processor a few times I used a combination... the heels of one loaf of white bread, one heel of a loaf of wheat bread, and one whole-wheat pita that was on the verge of heading south.

The rest of it is very simple... make a white sauce, add sour cream, and stir that with the cooked chicken and chopped spinach. Add some cooked noodles, put it in a casserole pan and top with the bread crumbs and melted butter, and bake.

Voila! Meat and grains and dairy and veggies, all in one dish. I served it with (another) spinach salad, and called it a weeknight.

Here is the recipe, straight out of Real Simple Magazine:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • slices sandwich bread
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken
  • 5 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes (do not let the mixture darken). Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions; drain and return them to the pot. Pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
  3. Add the milk mixture, chicken, spinach, and thyme to the noodles and toss to combine. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch or some other 3-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and drizzle with the melted butter.
  4. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden and the filling is bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.