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Chicken and Kale Casserole with Bacon Asparagus Side

I’ve been waiting to post about this casserole for a few months because I wanted to see how it would hold up in the freezer. While the initial prep time can take around an hour, I was able to split the below recipe into three separate casserole dishes–freezing two away. One I served a few weeks later, and the last one I just heated up tonight. Even a few months later, the lemon zest mixed in really helped give the casserole a fresh taste.

The bacon asparagus side is also an easy prep—it’s easy to pull together while the casserole is baking, and helped add more greens to the meal. Bacon pretty much makes anything better—and two strips goes a long way in this dish. With some parsley and dijon mustard mixed in, the veggie gets a sharp kick with a savory aftertaste.

Chicken and Kale Casserole
Everyday Food

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound large pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced medium
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches kale (1 1/2 pounds), tough stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (from 1/2 rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 container (48 ounces) part-skim ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan, grated (2 1/4 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain; return to pot.
  2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is beginning to soften, 4 minutes. Add kale, cover, and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to pot with pasta.
  3. Stir in chicken, ricotta, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; top with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake until top is golden, 30 minutes.
  4. REHEATING INSTRUCTIONS: If you freeze some of these back, you should move it to the fridge the morning you plan to make it. If not, you might need to add more time in the oven–I usually cover the frozen casseroles with aluminum foil and just look for the bubbles peaking out on the sides (30-40 minutes)

Sauteed Asparagus with Bacon
Everyday Food

    • 2 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 2 bunches asparagus (2 pounds), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add asparagus to skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bacon, mustard, and parsley.