ounces dried penne pasta
cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
cup broccoli florets
tablespoons vegetable oil
ounces button mushrooms, halved
cup chopped red sweet pepper
pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 - 2
teaspoons dried Italian seasoning or other herb blend, crushed
teaspoon ground black pepper
cup chopped onion (1 medium)
clove garlic, minced
cup all-purpose flour
tablespoons tomato paste
cups shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese (8 ounces)
ounces process American or Swiss cheese, torn (2 cups)
Ground black pepper
ounces purchased croutons (2 cups), coarsely crushed
Cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans and broccoli the last 2 minutes; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again. Return pasta to pan.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, red peppers and chicken. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Add chicken to pasta in pan.
For cheese sauce, in a large saucepan melt the 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until tender. Stir in flour, then tomato paste. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Gradually stir in cheddar and American cheeses until nearly melted. Remove from heat; season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Add cheese sauce to pasta mixture, stirring to coat.
Spoon pasta mixture into a 3 quart baking dish. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap, then with foil. Freeze for up to 4 months.
To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap; recover with foil. Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until heated through, stirring every 30 minutes. Top with crushed croutons.
Nutrition Facts (Chicken-Vegetable Mac and Cheese)
Per serving: 579 kcal cal., 29 g fat (14 g sat. fat, 4 g polyunsaturated fat, 7 g monounsatured fat), 111 mg chol., 890 mg sodium, 47 g carb., 3 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 44 g pro. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet