Monday, February 11, 2013

Dinner with Friends: Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

Since moving, J and I haven't had people in for dinner.  The mountain has been in a constant state of partially packed, and the dining room table has been covered with papers.  But we're always trying to change our ways and invite people in more often.  We finally made up for it this weekend by having people in Friday and Saturday night.  The good things about that?  I made a layer cake and it's all gone.  I made new recipes.  The bad thing?  I did so many dishes over the weekend.
But dishes or no, we like to entertain.  And the food was fantastic.  I may not be getting anywhere with my magazine challenge, but I made 2 more Pinterest wins.  One of them is the recipe for today. 
I present to you now What's Cookin Chicago's Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells.

8 oz cream cheese
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 c shredded Italian cheese (mozzarella, provolone, parmesan...I used the Kraft 4 Cheese Italiano) + 1/2 c for topping
6 Tbsp prepared Pesto + Pesto for pan
4 cloves garlic
25-30 large pasta shells

1.  In a large pot, cook shells according to directions.  Cook just until al dente.  Drain and rinse well in cold water.
2.  Combine remaining ingredients, mixing well.  Fill shells and place in a 9x13 pan, spread with  pesto (approx 2 Tbsp)
3.  Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 c of shredded cheese and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350F until heated through, and the cheese has melted.
Adapted from What's Cookin Chicago?

I have to admit, I did make some changes to the recipe.  I doubled the recipe so that there would be enough for 6 of us.  Doubling the filling made enough for me to freeze half for another time after filling the shells that would fill my baking pan.  Looking at this picture, I'm not sure I doubled the pesto in the filling.  It's not very green.  But it was tasty.  Freezing won't hurt it, either.
The original recipe said to put the shells in the pan and bake them uncovered.  I worried about the shells turning into leather and sticking to the pan.  I spread the pan with a little pesto to keep the shells from sticking. I also covered the pan with foil for baking to keep some of the moisture in for the shells.  It meant the cheese didn't brown, but that didn't matter on taste.
Not the most colourful, but still yummy.  Everyone enjoyed these...even the seven year old picky eaters.  I'd make them again.  Good thing, seeing as I have filling in my freezer.


  1. That does look tasty! I'm sure my family would enjoy these. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Margaret Ann SampsonFebruary 11, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    You could take the foil off for the last 10 mins of cooking to allow the cheese to brown a bit. Looks like a recipe to try, since it can be made gf.