Creamy, cheesy comfort food the whole family will love. Easy to make Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Stuffed Shells are loaded good for you ingredients then topped with a cheese béchamel sauce. Baked until gooey, this is the ultimate Sunday dinner.
Raise your hand if you have a picky eater in your house? I’ll raise both. Let’s start with my daughter…who is an adult now and I guess that means I need to change my “About Me” tab. She’s not THAT picky but I still can’t keep track of her likes and dislikes. My son, on the other hand, he will eat the usual….chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, grilled chicken without any trace of black grill marks anywhere, plain pizza so long as the cheese is perfectly placed and not missing in any spots…french fries, but not curly fries….grilled cheese with the crusts cut off, Zoe’s sandwich (Grilled turkey and cheese from Zoe’s Kitchen) and basically, any kind of fruit. He’ll eat yogurt, too…but only strawberry. He’s hard to feed and I’ve been coaxing him to try new things now that he’s five. I can kinda barter with him a little but but he is very stubborn…and I know he’ll just love some of the things I make but I think he just says he doesn’t like it just to be difficult. Should be fun times in the years to come.
So, when I branch out and make something smothered in a cheesy béchamel sauce like these Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Stuffed Shells it does make them both a little curious. Like little daredevils about to go skydiving for the first time. The trepidation and hesitancy is all too obvious….you’d think I’m about to throw them both into a fiery pit of lava. But I’m happy to report that they both loved them….I, again, created a kid friendly meal for even the pickiest of palates.
These Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Stuffed Shells are kinda, sorta healthy….there’s not as much cheese inside the shells as it looks, the chicken is shredded along with some of the avocado and spinach to make the filling pretty substantial without adding TONS of cheese. They’re not something you want to eat everyday but they’re also not so gut busting that you’ll cancel out your entire week’s workout. The cheese sauce is made with chicken stock and low fat milk with a just a hint of nutmeg to keep your tastebuds wondering why it’s so amazing. Nutmeg and cream sauces are just made for each other. Serve your Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Stuffed Shells with a side of green beans or a light salad and you have one well-rounded meal. And if you really want to cancel out your workout for the week…add a pile of these brownies for dessert….or keep it light with a little chocolate pudding.
- 18 jumbo pasta shells (about half of a 12-ounce box)
- 2 cups chopped thawed artichoke hearts
- 2 cups chopped baby spinach
- 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons corn starch or flour
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook shells according to package directions. Drain and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil to keep them from sticking. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the artichokes, spinach, chicken, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Whisk in the corn starch until a thick paste forms and continue cooking until golden brown. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and cook until thickened. Add the milk, whisking constantly. Stir in the garlic powder and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1/2 of the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Scoop one tablespoon of artichoke filling inside each cooked shell. Place each pasta shell in the sauce, seam side up. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake it for 15 additional minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.