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Giada De Laurentiis’ Kid-Friendly Baked Chicken Pasta Is The Perfect Make-Ahead Weeknight Meal

Fall is here, and even though all we want to do is cozy up under a Pendleton blanket with a good book and a hot pumpkin spice latte, life is busier than ever. Whether you’re working, working and hustling to get your kids to school, working and dealing with kids who are doing remote schooling from home, or just juggling life in general, chances are you’re feeling a little more flustered than usual this year. Well, Giada de Laurentiis is here to help. She just posted a recipe for a creamy, cheesy baked pasta with chicken that’s the ultimate cold weather comfort food, and even better? We realized that it’s the perfect recipe to make ahead for those busy weeknight meals.

The first selling point of this kid-friendly dinner recipe is that it’s basically a jazzed-up macaroni and cheese. Pretty much everyone we know loves mac and cheese, so that already makes this meal a winner.

De Laurentiis uses pastina in this dish, which basically just means small pasta. She says you can use elbow macaroni, actual pastina, or any small pasta – we think small shells would be delicious in this recipe.

Diced tomatoes are added to the pastina along with chicken, shredded mozzarella, parsley, garlic, and chicken. It’s a well-balanced dish of meaty, salty, tangy, and slightly sweet flavors; a lot more dynamic than your basic mac and cheese, but still simple enough for picky eaters.

Best of all, it can be made ahead of time. You could cook up a double batch of the baked pasta on the weekend, then dole it out over the course of the week, or make the whole thing ahead of time, wrap it in foil, and keep it for a night when you truly have no idea what to do about dinner. Take it out of the freezer and put it in a 350 oven for 45 minutes to an hour, and you’ll have a cozy, satisfying dinner that required no hands-on work. What could be better than that?

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