Chicken and Spinach Shells with Feta Sauce

Roasting chicken has become my latest Sunday tradition. Ever since I made one with lemon and za’atar a few weeks ago, I’ve been hooked! Unfortunatly, while I love the whole chicken/starch/vegetable meal the first night I don’t really love it as leftovers. Salads get boring, so I’ve been trying to come up with new ways to use leftover roast chicken. (Although it is tempting to just make flautas every. single. time.)

I’ve been meaning to make stuffed shells with cream sauce for a while now… I think I saw a picture when I was flipping through an issue of Everyday Food back in February, and I haven’t been able to get the idea out of my head. Well, I finally got around to making them and all I can say is oh my God, these are delicious!

The flavor is light and fresh, and although the feta cream sauce seems indulgent, it isn’t a heavy meal at all. I love, love, love the flavor of the roast chicken combined with cream – it’s so luxurious!

This dish ia little more time-intensive than most thing’s I make on weeknights (not only do you have to wait for pasta to boil, but you also need to bake it) but it’s worth every second. You can also make a big batch but throw half of it into the freezer to bake another time… I have some in my freezer now.

 

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Chicken and Spinach Shells with Feta Sauce

Yields 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These stuffed shells are a great way to use up leftover roast chicken. I found that one breast from a six-pound bird yielded about 2 cups of shredded chicken, which was the perfect amount for this recipe. If you don’t have leftovers, a store-bough rotisserie chicken works too. 

I garnished my shells with pea shoots that I bought at the farmer’s market – the tender shoots has a subtle spring-pea flavor and a slight crunch that was a perfect compliment to the soft shells.

Ingredients

    • 20 pieces Jumbo Shells Pasta (about 1/2 a box)
    • 1 Tablespoon Butter
    • 3 Tablespoons Flour
    • 1/2 cup Fat Free Half and Half
    • 1-1/2 cups Skim Milk
    • 4 ounces Reduced Fat Feta, crumbled
    • 1/4 cup Water
    • 2 cups Chopped Spinach
    • 2 cups Shredded Chicken Breast, leftover or from a store-bought rotisserie chicken
    • 1 teaspoon Oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
    • Salt and Pepper, to taste
    • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Parsley

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 450*F. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain.
  2. While the pasta boils, prepare the sauce and filling: Melt the butter in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook for minutes, or until the mixture turns a light golden color like butterscotch. Whisk in the half and half and milk, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the feta. Transfer half the sauce to a measuring cup or bowl. Stir the water into this portion of the sauce. Add the spinach to the sauce that’s still in the pan, and cook until it’s wilted. Stir in the chicken, oregano, and red pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 7×11 baking dish. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling into each shell and arrange, open side up, in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Approx 400 calories, 9 grams fat, 42 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 27 grams protein

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Comments

  1. Ooooo that looks delicious, also tricky to make but delicious. Thanks for posting, I may have to make that this week! :-)

    • It really isn’t that tricky. If you’ve ever made homemade macaroni and cheese before, the sauce here isn’t any more difficult.

  2. bellini says:

    It does sound like it is worth the effort!

  3. LOVE this recipe–I have quite a few shells leftover in my pantry–I think this would be a great way to use them up!

  4. Lauren, your shells look and sound amazing! I am a huge fan of roasted chicken as well, and I have been on a cream sauce kick lately, so this is right up my alley! I can’t wait to try it! I love that you added a kick of crushed red pepper flakes – I do that often with creamy pasta dishes!

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