Since we owe the existence of sun-dried tomatoes to the Italians, let's start off with a traditional Italian recipe. This hearty dish is the perfect entrée for a cool winter's eve, with lots of rich cheese and creamy sauce. This particular recipe is enough for two baking dishes' worth, one to serve now and one to freeze for later. But, if you just want to make enough for the present, halve the recipe ingredients and go for it.
- 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the baking dishes
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut horizontally
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups whole milk
- 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two shallow, 2-quart baking dishes with butter. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook the penne until 3 minutes short of al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- Using medium-high heat, warm the oil in a large skillet. Season the chicken halves with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook until the chicken is opaque throughout (about 3 to 5 minutes on each side). Cut each piece in half lengthwise, and then slice thinly crosswise.
- Using a heavy pot (or a Dutch oven, if you've got one), melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and garlic to the melted butter. Whisk the mixture as it cooks, gradually adding milk, for about a minute. Bring it to a simmer while continuing to whisk. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for another minute. Remove the pot from the burner and gradually stir in the provolone and half cup of Parmesan.
- Add the chicken and pasta to the pot, and then divide the mixture between the two baking dishes. Sprinkle the tops with the rest of the Parmesan. Bake the dishes, uncovered, until golden brown and bubbling (about 25 minutes). Let the dish stand 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve one dish and freeze the other -- it'll keep for up to three months.