Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells

January is the ultimate month for comfort food. All the cold and gray weather makes me want to curl up and eat a bowl of something hot and cheesy. These shells are easy to make and can be refridgerated over night and baked the next day. I use blended cottage cheese instead of ricotta because it is healthier, cheaper, and won't change the flavor significantly.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion diced
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
2 medium chicken breasts diced into small cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced parsley
Salt and pepper
2/3 box of large shells
1 tub of low-fat cottage cheese (blended to a smooth consistency)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup frozen spinach, heated and drained
1 jar tomato pasta sauce ( I prefer Barilla tomato and basil)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Cook the shells in salted water to al dente and drain.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until tender  and beginning to turn golden (about 8-10 minutes). Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the chicken, 1 tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoons parsley and cook until chicken is cooked  (about 4-6 minutes). Drain off most of the moisture and salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the cottage cheese, 2 cups of mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add the chicken mixture and the spinach.
Pour a layer pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. This should be about 1 cup- 1 1/2 cups, enough so the shells won't stick to the pan.
Take a shell and fill it about 3/4 of the way full with the chicken and cheese filling. Place it in the pan. Repeat with the remaining shells and filling. If you have any remaining you can make an additional small pan.
Once all the shells are full and lined up in the pan, spoon the remaining sauce over each shell and then top the pan with the remaining cheese and basil and parsley. Cook in oven until it is bubbly and the cheese is nicely melted (about 20-25 minutes).

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