Did you know that the artichoke, specifically the globe artichoke, is actually the unopened flower bud of a thistle-like plant. These unopened flowers were a passion of Catherine de Medici in fifteenth-century Florence, Italy. Catherine became the wife of Henry II, king of France. King Henry excluded Catherine from the political arena. Upon his death, she became ruler of France through her sons, each of whom she outlived.
Her favorite artichoke was brought to the United States in the nineteenth century, first to Louisiana and later to California. Today California, especially the area around Castroville, produces virtually the entire domestic crop. Artichokes are also grown in abundance in the Mediterranean region where they are a very popular vegetable. What does all this have to do with today’s recipe? Not much, I just found it interesting.
The best way to approach this recipe is one of three ways. You can cook up some chicken especially for this recipe; you can have a roasted chicken dinner earlier in the week (and roast a 2nd chicken for this recipe at the same time) or (like me) you can pick up a roasted chicken at the deli. Just make sure when you are strip the meat off that roasted chicken you keep everyone who might want to nibble on it out of the kitchen. (And try to resist the urge yourself!)
Beyond cooking up a chicken, the rest of the recipe comes together in a snap.
Rigatoni and Chicken Bake with Artichokes
1 lb Rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1 roasted rotisserie chicken)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes Italian style
1 can (14 oz) Marinated Artichoke Hears, drained and quartered
6 oz sliced green olives (optional)
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 Cup White Wine (Optional)
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, gather and prepare all your other ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Heat oil in large deep skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion and pepper; cook and stir about 1 minute.
Add chicken, tomatoes with juices, pasta, artichokes and Italian seasoning; mix until combined.
Place half of the chicken mixture in prepared dish, sprinkle with half of the cheese. Top with remaining chicken mixture and cheese. If desires, pour a little white wine over the casserole before placing it in the oven.
Bake, 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Serve with warm bread and a simple salad for an easy weeknight meal.