Less time-consuming than lasagna but sexier than plain ol’ spaghetti, stuffed shells are sometimes the forgotten stepsister of pasta dinners. What I also like about them is that they’re easy enough for a weeknight dinner but can still be impressive enough for entertaining – my favorite type of recipe!
In this recipe I used chicken and spinach but the options for fillings are endless. Get creative with different meats and vegetables and make up combinations that include italian sausage, beef, mushrooms, artichokes or even squash.
Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells
1/2 box jumbo pasta shells
1 pkg chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and liquid drained
1 C shredded mozzarella
1/2 C grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C low fat ricotta cheese (heaping)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water well and add 1/2 box of pasta shells. Reduce heat to medium and cook shells for 6-8 minutes. Shells should be al dente. Drain shells in a colander and rinse with cool water to stop further cooking. Preheat oven to 375.
Slice chicken into small chunks and transfer to a saute pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper and minced garlic. Saute until meat is just cooked. Add drained spinach, taking care to squeeze out as much water as possible before placing it in the pan. Warm spinach slightly, then transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Add 1/4 C parmesan, ricotta and 1/2 C mozzarella cheese. Stir well.
Place empty shells in an 9×13 baking dish. Spoon filling into each shell. Pour spaghetti sauce over filled shells and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes so that cheese is melted and just golden.