Buffalo Chicken Pasta Rustica
I love buffalo chicken anything, and even as a little kid, I loved buffalo wings and even cayenne flavored potato chips. The idea for this pasta came to me in a moment of sheer brilliance—total comfort food with all the flavors of spicy wings.
Last week I bought all the stuff to make this, and then I got sick! I definitely did not want to try cooking this with an upset stomach for fear that it would ruin my taste for buffalo chicken in the future. So I waited a few days to make it.
I used whole wheat gemelli pasta for this, but you can use any short pasta you have on hand: penne, rotini, even elbows. I started using whole wheat pasta about 10 years ago, and I don’t even consider buying white pasta at this point. The exception to this is bucatini, which I can’t find in a whole wheat version except for this kind, but at over $10 a pound, I have to say no.
You can make and assemble this ahead of time. After topping the casserole with breadcrumbs and blue cheese, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days until ready to cook. Just remember if you’re putting it directly into the oven from the refrigerator, you will need to add about 10-12 minutes to the cooking time.
This recipe uses my favorite Basic Baked Chicken, just like so many of my other recipes! I considered blanching the bell peppers before adding them to the casserole, but I wanted them to have a little crunch and not risk them being overcooked or mushy. Putting them into fresh gives the whole dish a better texture.
One more thing: for all of my casseroles and baked pasta dishes, I make and write the recipe so that it will fill up one full sized casserole dish (like a 9×13” Pyrex) plus one small casserole dish. I do this because we have a big family and always finish leftovers, especially casserole. If you are making this for 3 people or less, you could definitely cut the recipe in half and still have some left over.
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy
1 recipe Basic Baked Chicken (4 breasts)
1 pound short whole wheat pasta (such as gemelli), cooked according to package instructions
1 orange bell pepper, medium diced
1 red bell pepper, medium diced
1 yellow bell pepper, medium diced
8-10 scallions, roughly chopped (use both green and white parts)
8 ounces freshly grated white cheddar
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 ranch seasoning packet
½ to 1 cup milk
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 – 2 cups crumbled blue cheese
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dice the Basic Baked Chicken into bite-sized pieces, and add them to a very large mixing bowl.
- Drain the pasta, and add it to the mixing bowl.
- Add all the bell peppers, scallions, cheddar, mayonnaise, sour cream, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and ranch seasoning packet to the bowl.
- Toss the mixture together gently, but mix well until combined.
- Add milk a little at a time as needed, until the mixture looks creamy. (It needs to look creamier than a pasta salad. Adding extra liquid keeps the pasta from drying out in the oven.)
- Once the casserole has a creamier consistency, add it to your casserole dishes (or dish, if you are halving the recipe).
- Sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs evenly over the pasta mixture.
- Sprinkle the blue cheese crumbles evenly on top of the breadcrumbs.
- Cover tightly, and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
- Turn the oven up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncover the pasta, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the top has begun to turn golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, loosely cover, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.