Bake

Creamy, Cheesy Artichoke & Chicken Pasta Bake

March 18, 2021
29 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Doused in a rich, thick, absurdly creamy sauce flecked with hunks of artichoke hearts and strands of wilted spinach, and baked until just golden brown with sprinkles of mozzarella on top, Artichoke Basille's namesake pie is the most decadent combination of carbs and dairy I have ever come across. It was a glorious case of love at first bite. And ever since we met, it's been my go-to late-night snack.

But since a trip to one of their locations isn't always in the cards, I decided to make this pasta to satisfy any strong and sudden cravings for a slice. I flipped through my taste memories (and texted my best friend, Julian, who is also an Artichoke Basille's disciple) and assembled a lineup of ingredients—milk, cream, cream cheese, mozzarella, garlic and onion powder, canned artichokes, spinach, and basil—that had to at least be close to what they use in the real thing. To get that essential bready element in there, I grabbed a loaf of fluffy focaccia to bake on top.

Using Martha Stewart's Genius-approved macaroni and cheese as a model, I made a luscious cheese sauce (cream cheese included) and started adding dashes of onion powder, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes by the half-teaspoon until it tasted, well, delicious. Then, I dumped in the artichoke hearts (plus a splash of their juices, for tang), some grilled chicken I had leftover for heft (as if it needed any), and mixed in the spinach, basil, and penne rigate.

Is this a perfect replica? Of course not. But it has everything I love about the original pizza—a velvety and flavorful sauce with just a tiny bit of bite from the artichokes and red pepper, the melty mozzarella, and the crispy focaccia (which offers the illusion of crust without having to make a dough from scratch). The best part: I don't have to leave the house, or even wait in line. —Erin Alexander

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: A Lusciously Cheesy Artichoke Pasta Inspired by My Favorite Midnight Snack. —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6 (depends on how hungry you are)
Ingredients
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 4 thick slices ciabatta or focaccia, torn into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (plus more for greasing the baking dish)
  • 1/2 pound grilled chicken breast, torn into large chunks
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded, low-moisture mozzarella, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, torn and divided
  • 2 (6 1/2-ounce) jars marinated and quarter-cut artichoke hearts, drained (for more tang, reserve some of the liquid)
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Cook the pasta al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan or microwave (for the microwave, use 30-second intervals). In a bowl, toss the ciabatta or focaccia chunks with the melted butter and set aside.
  4. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and bubbling, add the flour and whisk together to form a thick, smooth roux (if too thick, add more butter; if too thin, add more flour). Keep whisking over low heat until the roux takes on a light brown color and gives off a slightly nutty smell (you shouldn’t be able to smell the raw flour), about 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. Then whisk in the milk and cream until it’s fully incorporated with the roux. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Turn down the heat to low and whisk in 2 1/2 cups mozzarella and the cream cheese until fully melted and incorporated. Whisk in the garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, plus salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Stir in 2/3 cup basil, artichokes (for a tangier sauce, add some of the artichoke liquid), grilled chicken, and cooked pasta. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen it up. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Turn off the heat on the stovetop. Stir in the spinach.
  7. Butter a large casserole dish (I used a 10 x 10-inch, but you could use a slightly larger one and be just fine) and add the pasta mixture to the dish. Top with the buttered bread chunks. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella and 1/3 cup basil over top. Bake the dish until the cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
  8. Serve hot out of the oven and don’t forget to snap a pic of that cheese pull.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dean P
    Dean P
  • Elizabeth Nelson
    Elizabeth Nelson
  • Lorrie Hanawalt
    Lorrie Hanawalt
  • samanthaalison
    samanthaalison
  • Nabila Weisman
    Nabila Weisman
Erin Alexander is the Brand Partnerships Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

9 Reviews

Dean P. May 26, 2021
Excellent dinner recipe. I followed several of the reviews and added more chicken. I will make it again, and probably add a little Parmesan and cut the basil a little. Overall though it’s a great family dinner and perfect way to use leftover chicken.
Definitely recommend!
 
Jill March 18, 2021
Delish! Didn't have everything on hand (like ciabatta or any bread, chicken) but added bacon. Yum!
 
Elizabeth N. December 30, 2020
This was super tasty! I made it in a cast iron pan so the edges got a bit too crispy with the full cook time, I would make a few adjustments if I did the recipe again. First, more chicken and artichokes (I only had one jar). Second, I'd season the sauce more heavily (especially salt-wise) and throw in some parm. Overall amazing concept and makes great leftovers too.
 
Lorrie H. November 16, 2020
My husband made this for me last night and it was everything I had hoped it would be! Only change for next time is add more chicken. I roasted a whole chicken for this and used only one breast. Next time I'll add two.
 
Bits52 December 11, 2019
OMG. Made this in a crazy cold rainstorm that eventually turned to snow. Perfect night for it. I actually used a rotisserie chicken from the market (half of it) to save a little time. I also used whole wheat pasta and probably a cup more cheese. What baked goodness this was. I'd suggest perhaps cutting the artichokes in half as they were larger chunks than the chicken which was confusing for the kids - who also loved, although the red pepper flake was a little heavy-handed as well...on purpose. Just had leftovers for lunch at work! Thanks for the recipe!!
 
samanthaalison November 15, 2019
Any idea how many ounces of mozzarella is in 3.5 cups? Hard to translate that into what I would buy at the store.
 
jmburns September 13, 2020
About 14 Oz
 
Nabila W. March 29, 2019
I made this tonight, added half a jar of the artichoke juice plus added minced garlic in the butter you toss with the bread, it was very good!
 
Alexandra P. March 26, 2019
The recipe served more than indicated (I did add extra chicken as I had company coming over). It was fine but not great, a bit one-note as the tanginess of the artichokes never kicked in (and I did use almost the entire jar of juices). I added sliced red bell peppers (from a jar) to give a bit of visual interest and some contrasting flavor. I think next time I would add a second, more-flavorful cheese and perhaps more spice. I appreciate that the author was trying to recreate a favorite dish, so my critiques might be taking this recipe in a direction not intended. In any case, I find this could be a base for many variations, and I did love the buttery ciabatta cubes on top.