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Chicken Stuffed Shells

This is a popular dish with David and me. We are both huge fans of any kind of Italian food, and we eat pasta pretty often. These stuffed shells are pretty easy to put together and it’s so good! I got the recipe from Amber’s Delectable Delights, but I did make a few changes after making it for the first time. It’s also a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken. I used the chicken from my roasted chicken a few posts below. The rotisserie chicken adds a lot of flavor to the dish. This dish also freezes well. Here’s my version of the stuffed shells:

18 to 20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 teaspoons olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups cooked chicken (I use leftover rotisserie chicken)
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
Marinara sauce (I always do a homemade version)
salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, and basil to taste
Parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook pasta shells according to package directions and drain. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Combine chicken and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, chicken, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, and basil. Spread about 1/2 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish. Fill cooked shells with chicken mixture and place filled sides up in baking dish. Pour desired amount of sauce over shells (I always use a lot of sauce). Bake covered with foil for 18 to 20 minutes; remove foil and bake until filling is lightly browned, about 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with desired cheese toppings and serve.

I always make homemade marinara sauce to go with these types of dishes. I never measure, but here is my “recipe” for marinara:

Saute 1 large onion and about 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Add 2-3 cans tomato diced tomatoes (If I buy these from the grocery store, I use 15-ounce cans, but often David’s grandmother gives us canned tomatoes from her garden so I use those). Add 2 (15-ounce) cans of tomato sauce and 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato paste. Then add spices: oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

This makes a ton of sauce. I like to freeze it in small containers to bring out when I need it.