As much as I love creating new recipes from scratch, I also adore re-visiting classical dishes & playing around with the ingredients to give them a new vibe.
I was never a big fan of Negresco honestly, especially the taste of boiled chicken, which in my point of view, overpowered everything else. But I liked the concept of adding chicken to oven baked pasta so I decided to give traditional Negresco a new twist.
In this recipe, the bechamel is made light without any butter & flavored with soy sauce & mustard giving it an amazing kick. Also, the chicken is pan seared in olive oil & tossed with A LOT of veggies which increases the nutritional value of the whole dish & gives a new dimension to the boring taste of plain chicken.
This dish can be prepared ahead of time & baked right before serving. Also, it freezes really well; just thaw overnight in the fridge & bake.
- 1 x 400 gm pack spaghetti cooked (little less than al dente)
For the bechamel sauce:
- 1 liter milk half skimmed
- 1/2 cup flour (or 1/4 cup flour & 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- salt & pepper
For the chicken:
- 250 gm chicken fillet thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup tomato finely diced
- 1/2 cup red pepper finely diced
- 1/2 cup yellow pepper finely diced
- 1 cup fresh mushroom slices
- 1/2 cup green or black olives slices
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves minced
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
For the upper layer:
- shredded mozzarella
- grated parmesan
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Prepare the chicken: Heat a large pan over high heat until hot. Add the olive oil & sear the chicken on both sides until slightly golden. Toss all the veggies with the chicken (except the parsley & lemon zest) & cook for a couple of minutes until the chicken & mushroom are cooked through. Add the parsley + lemon zest & season with salt & pepper.
- Prepare the bechamel: Whisk the flour into the cold milk until there are no lumps. Place the mixture in a pot over medium heat; whisking frequently until the mixture boils & thickens. Turn off heat, add the rest of the ingredients & whisk to blend. Season with salt & pepper.
- Assemble: Mix the cooked pasta with the bechamel sauce. Pour half the mixture in a Pyrex, arrange the chicken/veggie on top & cover with the rest of the pasta/bechamel mixture. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until the sauce bubbles & the cheese melts. Serve immediately.
- Cook the pasta until it is a little less than al dente as it will cook more in the oven.
- Season the bechamel at the end because the soy & parmesan are already salty.
- You can add any veggies you prefer to the chicken.