Artichoke and Diced Chicken Stuffed Shells

6:35 AM

One thing that makes it quite obvious that I'm not a "true" Foodie is that I know diddly squat about artichokes. I've never had it before aside from your standard spinach artichoke dip, but that doesn't count, does it? I find countless recipes that include this mysterious vegetable, and the longer I go without trying it and cooking with it, the more mystical and out of reach it seems to me. Tonight I set out to conquer this veggie for the first time, and the finished result was pretty darn good!

I'm sure it will be no surprise to you, but I had yet another adventure trying to find things at my poorly stocked commissary. For dinner I made a stuffed shells recipe I found at the new Tastykitchen site. I wanted to use the large shells like the recipe called for just so the dish would look pretty. I couldn't find it anywhere, so I opted to use manicotti that I cut in half after I had boiled them. I was very afraid that the kids wouldn't like the dinner since, like most kids,
aren't fond of green things on their plates, so I chose to play the silent game when it came to serving dinner. The artichoke hearts were diced up tiny, and since it doesn't offer a potent taste, my kids never noticed. I told Thing One after she asked for a second helping that it had artichokes (that way she wouldn't object to eating it in the future) and she didn't mind! The artichoke definitely flavored the pasta filling and it was a beautiful blend of flavors. I think that even my husband, who doesn't like any vegetables but potatoes and corn, might not mind it since it isn't overwhelming, but just to be on the safe side, when I make it for him, I'll forget to mention the ingredients also!

Artichoke and Diced Chicken Stuffed Shells
Serves 4-6

1 onion, finely diced
1 jar artichokes, finely diced
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 tub ricotta cheese
2 cups parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
1 block mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 package large pasta shells, cooked in salt water
3 cups marinara sauce

1. Preheat oven to 450˚.

2. Cook onions until slightly golden. Add chicken and cook until juices run clear. Add chopped artichoke and cook 2-3 minutes, just enough to heat through.

3. Combine basil, parsley, parmesan cheese and ricotta cheese in a large bowl. Add chicken mixture to the cheese mixture and mix to combine; salt and pepper to taste.

4. Spread about half of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish to prevent sticking. Stuff cooked shells with the cheese mixture and line up in casserole dish. Cover with other half of marinara sauce. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

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