Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
4oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade-recipe below or store bought)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
tomato sauce for topping
For the pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
5 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Pamesan cheese
What you’ll do:
In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping. Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish. Cover with tomato sauce (I used about 1/2 of the jar) and the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.
“Bruise” the basil leaves in a food processor fitted with the dough blade (the one that’s not as sharp) for a few pulses. Replace with the steel (sharp) blade.
Toast nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Add to teh food processor. Add the garlic cloves to the skillet and toast, tossing frequently, until the skins are toasted and garlic is fragrant. Peel and add to food processor as well.
Process until finely chopped, and add remaining ingredients except cheese. Transfer to a small bowl, add the cheese, and adjust seasonings if necessary.