Monday, February 17, 2014

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

I love pasta...and pesto, and sun dried tomatoes....and when I saw a similar recipe to this on Pinterest it got my ...inventive juices flowing??? I love to experiment with recipes. I tweaked the recipe to my taste....used more cream cheese and sun dried tomatoes. The first time I made it, I didn't use marinara sauce, was good but lacking something. So when I warmed it up the next night I used the marinara sauce....sooooo much better and just what this recipe needed. YUMMO! I might try using a small carton of recotta cheese next time I make this instead of the cream cheese... would be yummo too!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta

3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)

1/4 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil

2 cups (approx) chopped cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced

8-oz, package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping

1/2 cup grated mozzarella Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar Marinara sauce or your favorite spaghetti sauce (I like Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce)

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking:; place your sun-dried tomatoes and a little of the oil, the pesto, cooked chicken, and garlic in a medium size skillet; saute and stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes so the chicken gets coated with the pesto and the garlic cooks. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, Parmesan (except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping) and Mozzarella cheese, stir to combine. Then add the chicken mixture; stir again to combine. 

Taste at this point and add salt and pepper as needed.
Spread about 1 cup (or more, depending on the size of your baking dish) of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. 
Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish. Place a spoonful of marinara sauce over each stuffed shell. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.
Serve with crispy french bread and a side salad. YUMMO!

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