A healthy twist on an Italian Classic. This cleaned up version of chicken parmesan is lighter on the cheese and frying and loaded with roasted Italian veggies!
If someone had told me 3 years ago that in 2016 I would be writing a blog, with recipes, about clean eating, and that people read it … I wouldn’t have believed it. Just for the record, it is rare that a day goes by that a friend or family member doesn’t echo the same sentiment. Life is nuts.
You guys, I can’t say this emphatically enough, I was a nightmare in the kitchen. Joe and I subsisted on Lean Cuisines for lunches and rotisserie chickens with a side of veggies from a 5 lb. frozen bag. If I was feeling particularly domestic.. I may have busted out a steamable bag of veggies in place of the freezer fresh variety. Our spice cabinet consisted of salt and pepper and an unused variety set that had been gifted to us at our wedding… 2 years prior. I know what you’re thinking.. BLAND. Nope, not with a side of bottled BBQ sauce for the chicken and a healthy squirt of fat free ranch as chicken topping?.
There was one exception to our dietary rut.. when Joe’s parents visited. Of course, I wanted to dazzle them with my savy culinary skills which were unfortunately nonexistent.
The result, mostly disastrous. I’m not talking “needs a bit more garlic” type disaster.. I’m talking kitchen fires, big ones (because who knew you shouldn’t throw water on an oil fire?).
Kitchen fires aside, the hands down worst dinner I ever prepared was chicken parmesan. Think black.. very black. Clearly, pan frying chicken (or anything) was above my skill level at the time. I have to take a second and brag on my husband.. he ate a whole piece, every single bite. In retrospect I think he was trying to gently encourage my inner domestic goddess to make an appearance.
I have not made chicken parmesan since. Joe has not eaten chicken parmesan since.
Until today.. and guess what, he had seconds?.
Ok, so it isn’t REALLY chicken parmesan, but it has all the ingredients and flavors, so can you let me have this one? Pretty please. Not only do I have a sincere fear of kitchen fires when frying, but preparing the dish this way is SO much healthier (and it can be made ahead of time).
So, this recipe is called Chicken Parmesan LASAGNA bake. Obviously it is a pretty far stretch from official “lasagna status.” It doesn’t even have the right kind of noodles?. Buuutt… it has layers. I know, it’s a stretch, but when you see how easy it is to throw together, you will forgive!
Time Saving Tips and Tricks:
Prep: The day I made this recipe, I had 4 kiddos running around the house. I “prepped” a bit all day long. You can pre-cook the noodles, chicken, chop and/or roast the veggies, and even grate the parmesan. Do whatever combo works for you. Nothing has to be fresh and hot since the whole casserole will bake in the oven prior to serving.
Make Ahead: Yes! This is the most important reason that I would choose Chicken Parmesan Lasagna Bake over plain old chicken parmesan any day! You can assemble the casserole up to 3 days before you want to serve it, and it still tastes fresh and amazing. Follow recipe directions, but don’t bake. Instead, cover with clear wrap and store in the refrigerator. Pull it out and allow it to come to room temperature about 45 minutes prior to baking, or just know that you will need to increase the bake time a bit.
Freezer: Yep, it can do that too! Follow recipe directions, but don’t bake. Instead, gently press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the Chicken Parmesan Bake (to keep air out), and cover with aluminum foil. Store in fridge for up to 30 days. Allow casserole to thaw overnight in the fridge prior to baking (or plan to extend cooking time).
- 8 oz whole wheat noodles
- 2 red peppers, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 yellow squash, quartered and chopped
- 2 zucchini, quartered and chopped
- ½ TBS herbs de province
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. chicken tenders breast, chopped into 1 inch cubes
- ¼ cup olive oil + more for veggies
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. rosemary, chopped + extra for topping
- 1 tsp. thyme, chopped + extra for topping
- 1 tsp. oregano, chopped + extra for topping
- 6 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 jar of marinara sauce (I like Rao's Tomato Basil)
- ½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- NOODLES: Prepare to al-dente according to package directions. Do not fully cook, they will finish softening in the oven. Set aside.
- ROASTED VEGGIES: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover baking sheet in aluminum foil, and arrange sliced/chopped veggies into a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Herbs de Province. Toss to coat. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes,, or until veggies are tender and browned at the edges. Set aside.
- CHICKEN: In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Store to combine. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brush both sides of chicken with olive oil mixture. Cook chicken in a large skillet, over medium high heat until skin is golden brown (it is ok if chicken is a bit pink in the center it will finish up in the oven).
- BREADCRUMB MIXTURE: Combine bread crumbs with ½ tsp of thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Mix to combine. Set aside.
- ASSEMBLY: In an 8x8" casserole dish layer noodles, roasted veggies, chicken, parmesan cheese and sauce. Repeat. Top casserole with breadcrumb mixture and an additional layer of parmesan cheese.
- BAKE: Bake Chicken in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Top with additional chopped herbs prior to serving if desired.
- Make sure that pasta is 100% whole grain. If a label claims only “whole wheat” it really doesn’t mean much.
- You can sub out whatever type of veggies that you like. I think that mushrooms would be an excellent addition, but I forgot to pick them up at the store?.
- Because parmesan is the star of this recipe, I really encourage you to buy the block and grate your own. It’s worth the bit of extra effort!
- If you want to make your own spaghetti sauce, you could definitely do that. However, there are so many things that I have to make from scratch for my family that I like to take advantage of pre-made products that fit into our clean eating lifestyle. RAO’s spaghetti sauces are delicious and don’t contain any additives. I like THIS one. I have purchased it at Kroger and at Whole Foods. (This is not an AD… just love their sauce!)
Looking for more healthy make ahead dinners? Check out Simply Sissom’s Main Meals Board on Pinterest. New pins are added daily from my favorite bloggers from around the web!
Other Healthy Make Ahead Dinner Recipes:
FREE: GRAB N" GO BREAKFAST EBOOK
10 Make-Ahead,Whole Food Breakfast Recipes to help mornings go a little smoother and maybe even get you a little bit of extra sleep!