Fall is the perfect time to bring out the slow cooker and this Chicken and Broccoli Pasta is the perfect entree to cook in it. Read on to find out how to make this easy and delicious eight-ingredient pasta dish that is clearly the essence of comfort food. Look at all this cheesy deliciousness!
For some reason, I always forget about my slow-cooker until Fall rolls around. Maybe because it’s large and I store it in the back of my pantry. You know, out of sight, out of mind. I’m not sure what it is, but whenever I do get around to using it, I always ask myself, why don’t I use it more? There is something wonderful about coming home after being gone most of the day to the aroma of a delicious meal simmering away in the slow cooker. Knowing that a yummy and healthy meal is ready and waiting is a great feeling when you are tired and the last thing you want to do is prepare a meal.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Broccoli Pasta is easy to prepare, and then the slow cooker does all the heavy lifting. The ingredients are simple, and my guess is you already have most everything in your freezer and pantry, so what are you waiting for? Besides being really versatile, another great thing about this recipe is that it makes enough for eight and since it’s just my husband and me, I divide up the leftovers and freeze meals for three other nights when I’m too busy or just not in the mood to cook. I mean really, how great is that?
In case you are wondering, what the difference is between a slow cooker or a Crock-Pot, both have one thing in common: they cook low and slow with moist heat and do the work while you’re away. A Crock-pot is a type of slow cooker and most of the time they are smaller and round. It is also a brand of slow cooker that gave rise to a type of slow cooker, but a slow cooker is not always a Crock-Pot. The simmer point is the time it takes to bring all the contents of your slow cooker just below the boiling point. It’s right around 209 degrees. On the low setting, the time it takes to reach the simmer point is around seven to eight hours. For the high setting, it takes around three to four hours.
The ingredients for Slow Cooker Chicken and Broccoli Pasta are boneless skinless chicken breasts (you could substitute thighs), your favorite prepared marinara or pasta sauce (I like Ragu Homestyle Thick and Hearty Roasted Garlic Tomato Pasta Sauce), Cavatappi pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you have on hand; I like the curly shape of Cavatappi and that it has ridges that trap and hold the marinara sauce), fresh or frozen broccoli, shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. That’s it! I used a six-quart slow cooker for this recipe.
Once you have gathered your ingredients and you are ready to get started, cut the chicken into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken in the slow cooker.
Add the marinara sauce and mix well.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for four hours.
When the chicken is done, add the pasta to a large pot of salted boiling water. Follow the directions on the box to cook the pasta to the al dente stage. One minute before the pasta is done, add the broccoli and let it cook with the pasta. Drain.
Add the pasta and broccoli to the chicken mixture. Top with the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Cover and cook on low for an additional 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Top with chopped fresh basil, serve immediately and be prepared for the accolades which are sure to come. Enjoy!