If ever there was a week that needed to end, it's this one. Man, oh man has it been a long one!! And it didn't help that yesterday felt like it should have been Friday and all day I had to remind myself that it was, in fact, only Thursday and there was still one more day to get through. I vote we implement 4-day work weeks from now on. Can you help me make that happen?? At least this long-awaited Friday has brought something more than the bliss of the week's end with it. It's time again for a Recipe Swap, hosted by my friend Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking!! This round was Blogger's Choice, and I received Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations.
Mary Ellen has some great recipes on her blog, but when I saw these stuffed shells, I knew it would be the perfect way to use those artichokes that have been staring at me from the pantry for awhile now. This is also a perfect weekend meal, because it takes a little bit longer (45-ish minutes) than my usual weeknight dishes. But, let me tell you ladies and gents...it's worth the time it takes. And besides, at least 20 minutes of it you get to sit down and
guzzle sip a glass of wine while it bakes away.
I can't think of a much better way to start off the weekend than that, can you? I didn't think so!! And the shells come out cheesy, creamy and oh-so-delicious! Pair that with a nice salad, some crusty bread, and another (few) glasses of wine, and the stress of the work week is gone, gone, gone! Be sure to try this, and check out the other great recipes from the swap, below.
Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Stuffed Shells
As seen on Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta
- 6 oz shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cups bechamel (recipe follows)
- 2-3 handfuls of fresh baby spinach (almost 1 full bag), roughly chopped
- 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 30 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1-2 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups light cream
- 1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, season chicken with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and chop or shred. (Cook the shells while the chicken is cooking, according to package instructions.)
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, To make the béchamel: Heat butter in a pot over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the flour (1 tablespoon at a time) and whisk until you have a nice roux, then add the cream and bring to a simmer.
- Remove from the heat and add the cheese, whisking until creamy. Season with pepper, to taste.
- Transfer the onion and garlic to a large mixing bowl, add the chicken, mozzarella, artichokes, and spinach, and then slowly add the ricotta and 1/2 cup of the béchamel until you have a nice thick mixture.
- Cover the bottom of a baking dish with a layer of the béchamel.
- Stuff each shell with a large spoon full of the chicken mixture and place in the dish. Once you have filled the dish, top the shells with a bit more mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.