I recently made shells stuffed with chicken, homemade ricotta, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and topped with a white bechamel(ish) sauce. They turned out to be pretty yummy. It takes a bit of time to prepare, but it is well worth it! I used home made ricotta cheese, but with all of the other flavors going on I don’t think it was necessary.
These measurements makes 6 generous portions.
1 box jumbo shells
3 large chicken breasts
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 or 4 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350.
I boiled the chicken to cook it. Once it was cooked (it will turn white, double check by slicing into a piece and making sure it’s cooked no and no longer pink in the center) remove the chicken and place on a plate. I boiled the shells in the broth from cooking the chicken. While the shells are cooking, shred or cube the chicken and place in a bowl. Add the ricotta cheese. In a skillet, heat olive oil and add crushed garlic. Let the garlic brown and then remove. Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and let it wilt. When the spinach is wilted add it to the bowl and mix with the ricotta cheese and chicken. Chop the sun dried tomatoes and mix them in. Once the shells are cooked, let them cool enough that you can touch them. Stuff the shells with the mixture. When you have the shells filled, place them all in a 10 x 14 pan.
My version of a bechamel sauce is really easy to do, and comes together quickly.
In a large heavy bottom sauce pan, melt a stick of butter. When the butter is melted (but be careful not to brown it), sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour and stir until combined. It took about 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour total to get the right consistency. You want it to be a paste like mixture. Keep stirring the mixture to cook the flour taste out. In a smaller sauce pan, warm milk over a low heat. Once the flour taste has cooked out, about 4-5 minutes, stir in a small amount of milk and whisk quickly to incorporate. Keep adding more milk and whisking until the sauce becomes thick. I added a bit of parmesan cheese once it was thick. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the white sauce over the shells in an even layer.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until everything is heated through.