chicken pesto stuffed shells


When we were home in Chicago, I made a few meals for my family, as my folks work late into the evenings. We needed dinners that were quick, easy, and with some favorite ingredients that everyone could enjoy. I always have a few go-to recipes that I know will be good no matter who I'm cooking for, and, on this particular night, I pulled out this trusty pasta recipe.


I actually found the recipe on a Chicago chef's webpage while I was pregnant last year. I made it as a freezer meal several times after I had the little guy, and it was always such a good, comforting dinner. Let me just say, that it's not the healthiest dish, but it's so good! You can make some changes here and there to make it healthier if you'd like, but honestly, I'm okay with having some cheesy white flour pasta for dinner sometimes when it's this good.

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So here it is! The recipe for these amazing stuffed shells. It's nothing fancy...Just some comforting ingredients for a family dinner or even a night at home by yourself on the couch. Enjoy!

Chicken Pesto Stuffed Shells.

Adapted from What's Cookin', Chicago?


12 jumbo shells

2-3 medium chicken breasts

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 cloves garlic

1/ cup pine nuts

1 cup olive oil plus a drizzle for the pasta

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated


In a medium pot, boil water for the pasta. Once the water is boiling, cook on medium heat until al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Strain the water, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and set the pasta aside.

Meanwhile, in a skillet on the stove, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts in the oil for about 5 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in the center. Juices should run clear. Remove from the pan and let rest on a plate.

In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts. Pulse several times until minced. Pour the cup of olive oil in as the mixture is being pulsed. It will begin to come together into a thick paste. Once it looks creamy and not clumpy, the pesto mixture has enough oil and is done.

Prepare an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Shred the chicken into thin pieces and place in a medium sized bowl. Add the cream cheese, pesto mixture, and 1/2 cup parmesan. Stir to combine. Stuff the pasta shells with the mixture and place in the prepared pan. Top with the remaining parmesan and cook for 20 minutes in the oven. The tops of the shells should be just starting to brown. 

Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

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If you'd like to make this recipe healthier, you can substitute whole wheat pasta shells for the pasta and ricotta cheese for the cream cheese. The parmesan can also be reduced by half.


Kristen King2 Comments