Cheesy pasta is always a good idea in my book.
One of the first meals I learned how to make is stuffed pasta shells. To use the famous wording of Friends character Chandler Bing, could it BE anymore easy? You basically just cook the pasta shells, stuff them, bake them, eat them!
All you really need for this meal is jumbo pasta shells and sauce (and cheese, duh). The stuffing can be made out of whatever you have on hand.
Like usual, I took shortcuts whenever possible. I used jarred sauce instead of making my own. I had leftover rotisserie chicken that I had shredded, less than half a bag of baby spinach, and broccoli slaw. The broccoli slaw was awesome because I didn’t have to chop any veggies!
If you don’t already have cooked chicken and don’t want to cook any, I imagine this dish would be great with a meatless stuffing of veggies and cheese, maybe with some white beans in place of the chicken as well. Spinach works great and adds color but any veggie you have on hand could work, maybe just chopped small enough to fit well into the shells.
Lastly, I used spicy red pepper sauce this time around but I usually use a plain marinara sauce. Garlic tomato sauce is a great option too! What really matters is to have a sauce, experiment with different flavors to change up the flavor profile of this dish.
- 6 oz jumbo pasta shells (1/2 box)
- 1 jar pasta sauce (average 24 oz)
- 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup broccoli (or any veggie) slaw
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions, undercooking by 1-2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 375º.
- While pasta cools, sauté chicken with the spices and vegetables.
- Add half of the pasta sauce to a baking dish (I use a 13 x 9 in dish).
- When the pasta is cool enough to handle, fill each shell halfway with the chicken and veggie mixture, followed by ~1-2 tbsp cheese. *This does not have to be perfect. It’s a guessing game to spread out the chicken and veggie mixture between all the shells. It’s totally okay if some shells have more or less! Make up the difference in chicken with extra cheese.*
- In an organized manner, add the stuffed shells to the baking dish as you complete each one.
- When done stuffing the shells and they’re all in the baking dish, cover the shells with the remainder of the pasta sauce.
- Sprinkle the shells with the rest of the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 375º for 30 minutes.
- Optional: serve sprinkled with red pepper flakes. Enjoy!