A pasta bake with plenty of thick, creamy tomato sauce….made with NO CREAM….all in ONE POT! Even the pasta is cooked right in the pan with the sauce! Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Chicken is the ultimate recipe for low-effort comfort food to feed a family or group of friends.
A pasta bake, cooked entirely in one pot! The sauce is creamy and tomatoey but is made without a drop of cream, making this a great midweek meal.
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion , diced
2 garlic cloves , minced
6 tbsp / 1/2 cup plain flour
2 cups milk (500ml)
2 cups tomato passata (500ml) (Note 1)
1 cup water (or chicken or vegetable broth) (250ml)
2 tsp salt
3 cups dried ziti / penne pasta
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Melt butter in a deep fry pan or skillet (Note 2) over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the flour and stir to combine, then cook for 2 minutes.
Add the milk and whisk for 1 minute, in small circles around the fry pan, until it starts to thicken. Then add the tomato passata, water, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for around 5 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon (see photo below). Whisk occasionally for the first 3 minutes, then whisk constantly for the last 2 minutes.
Do a taste test and add 1 to 2 tsp of sugar if it is a bit sour (depends on quality of passata you use).
Add the ziti/penne, chicken and cheddar cheese and mix through. Leave it to cook for around 1 minute on the stove, then take it off the stove.
Scatter with mozzarella cheese. Cover with a lid or foil (Note 3) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the lid/foil and bake for a further 5 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes before serving, garnished with fresh basil leaves and grated parmesan, if desired.
1. Tomato passata is simply plain, pureed tomatoes. In America, it is also known as tomato sauce. In Australia, "tomato sauce" is the equivalent of tomato ketchup, so don't get the two confused!
In Australia, you can get tomato passata in the pasta section and starts at just over $1 for a large 700g bottle. You can also use pureed canned tomatoes.
You could also substitute the tomato passata with a store bought pasta sauce. If you do, then don't use as much salt as I have included in the recipe as store bought pasta sauce is seasoned and flavoured.
2. The fry pan I used was 26cm / 10" in diameter and 6cm/2.4" deep. It was JUST big enough for this recipe. Spillage during cooking was not the risk because this sauce doesn't splatter or bubble, but I had to be quite careful when stirring. It works better with a slightly deeper skillet / fry pan or a large casserole pot.
3. I don't have a lid for the fry pan I used but I have a lid for a larger pot which I just place on top. Otherwise, foil works just fine, or even a baking tray.