This is the time of year when the slow cooker starts becoming my friend again. It's when long days and busy evenings make it nearly impossible to find a few minutes to make some food for dinner.
This recipe is adapted from one on LaurenGreutman.com. But, because I needed to make it ahead, I prepared part of it in the slow cooker the night before and finished it off in the oven when we were ready to eat.
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan
2 chicken breasts
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
1/4 cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
12 ounces dry pasta such as penne or rigatoni
2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
In the slow cooker, dump the chicken, tomatoes, water, garlic and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for about three hours or low for about six or seven hours until the chicken is fully cooked.
Take out the chicken and shred it. Put the pasta in the cooker and stir so that it's all mixed up with the tomato sauce. Cover it and let it cook in the slow cooker for about 20 minutes until the pasta is done.
To finish it off in the slow cooker, stir in the chicken and top with the cheese. Cover it again until the cheese is melted. While that's happening, heat the oil in a pan on medium heat, add the breadcrumbs and mix well. Stir the mixture for a couple of minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasted. Remove from heat. Serve the pasta and chicken and top with the breadcrumbs and some Parmesan cheese.
To finish it off in the oven, stir in the chicken and then pour the chicken and pasta mixture into a casserole dish. Stick the casserole dish in the refrigerator. When you're ready to eat, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Top the casserole with the cheese and breadcrumbs, which have been toasted in olive oil on the stove. Let it bake for about 30 minutes until it is warmed through.
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