I love pretty much any and all pasta and it is always a given everyone will be happy if we have pasta for dinner. This recipe is an alfredo take on stuffed shells. I decided to serve it with some homemade garlic bread, since that is always the perfect accompaniment to a pasta dinner. I use homemade French bread (sooo tasty and pretty easy to make – recipe below), but you could easily use a store bought loaf of French bread, or ciabatta or sourdough too. I rounded this meal out with some greenbeans.
- 1 box jumbo pasta shells
- 1 package chicken tenders
- salt and pepper
- garlic powder
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup cottage cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella plus extra for the top
- 2 cups grated parm plus extra for the top
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp minced parsley
- 2 tbsp minced basil
- 4 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 cups whole milk or 2% milk
- 1 cup cream
- 4 garlic cloves
Heat oven to 375. Pan fry your tenders in a little oil, seasoned with salt, garlic powder, italian seasoning, and pepper until cooked through. Cool and chop into decent sized chunks. Cook the jumbo shells until al dente and gently drain and cool them.
In a bowl, combine the ricotta, cottage cheese, 1 cup parm, mozzarella, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper and chicken. It this filling is too thick you can thin it a bit with some cream or milk.
In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking to combine and cook for a few minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps until your roux is smooth. Add the cream and whisk until thickened. Add the garlic, 1 cup parm, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread some sauce in the bottom of a 13×9 pan. Fill each shell with the chicken mixture. Lay them in the pan and pour the sauce over. Sprinkle with the extra cheeses. Bake for 30 min or until browned on top. Cool for 10 minutes and then serve!
This is my favorite French bread recipe. It was one of the first breads I learned to make and it is an easy one, but so soft and delicious, especially warm with butter. If you’ve never tried making your own bread, I highly recommend it. Its one of my favorite things to do, and the results are more than worth the effort.
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 5 1/2 cups flour
Mix all ingredients in the stand mixer with dough hook (or knead by hand) until dough is smooth and supple and passes window pane test. Place in a greased dough rising container or a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Place in a warm area to rise until doubled, around an hour but really depends on the temp in your kitchen. I use a dough rising bucket like this one. I love it because its large enough for even big recipes, and you can actually see when it truly has doubled with the markings. It is super useful.
Preheat oven to 375. Once the dough has risen, divide into 2 equal pieces and gently pat each into a rectangle being careful not to fully deflate the dough. With the longer side towards you, fold the edge of each side to the center, then again bring the outside edges to the center and seal them against each other to form a long loaf (there are some great videos on bread shaping online if you aren’t sure how to shape it). Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise another 40-60 minutes depending on your kitchen. You can gently poke the loaf, and your dent remains and doesn’t fill back in, its ready to bake.
Score the top of the loaf with 3 lines, and place into the oven. I like to sprinkle a little kosher salt on the top first, but that is optional. Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the cookie sheet 180 degrees. Bake for another 8-10 minutes until golden brown and the internal temp is 200 or above. We love to eat this the best after 5 minutes when its still warm with butter, but in this case since I’m making garlic bread I cooled it on a cooling rack for later. You can also wrap a cooled loaf in plastic wrap and then bag it in a plastic bag and freeze and keeps very well that way. Just defrost it wrapped on the counter before using.
- 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 cup grated parm
- 1 loaf french bread
Heat oven to 400. Mix the melted butter with the rest of the garlic and spices. Let cool until it starts to set up again and mix in the parm. Allow to cool further until its spreadable. Cut the loaf of french bread horizontally and spread the butter mixture on both sides. You can top with further cheese if you want at this point. Place onto a foil lined baking sheet and put into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until crispy and bubbling. You can broil the top at the end for some extra browning. Slice into pieces and serve.
This pasta recipe was adapted from the Pioneer Woman recipe for this dish.
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