This post was inspired by a special recipe contest held by the folks at Pom Wonderful and by Jenn of The Foodie Blogroll.
Stuffed shells are easy, impressive, fun, and really delicious…so why don’t we make them more often? Maybe because it’s one of those dishes that are so good and so visually appealing that it just seems like they should be more trouble. But really, they’re not: they’re less of a bother than lasagna or homemade ravioli and they offer a vast landscape of creative possibilities.
I’d been thinking about making stuffed shells recently and wanted to do a slightly different twist on the classics, but I just wasn’t finding an inspiring motivation. When I started working with pomegranates, though, the lightbulb went off!
Just thinking about it made me dizzy: bright bursts of sweet pomegranate in a filling of creamy ricotta and shredded chicken (yes!); a topping of Gorgonzola cream with toasted pine nuts (perfect!); and…..something else…a simple, fresh note to tie it all together…
Homemade parsley oil! Eureka!
I didn’t, as Archimedes is said to have done after making the same exclamation, run naked through the streets of Syracuse (Syracuse, Sicily is too far away – and Syracuse, NY is far too cold this time of year for that sort of behavior.)
I did, however, drop everything and run to the store – clothed, of course. After you read this recipe, I hope you’ll do the same; what you wear is up to you!
Here’s a photo of the Chicken Pomegranate Stuffed Shells With Gorgonzola Cream and Pine Nuts below.
20 jumbo shells (about half of a 12 oz box)
1 - 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1 cup pomegranate arils, divided (I used Pom Wonderful Fresh Pomegranates)
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (this is a great use of leftover rotisserie chicken)
1 Tbsp finely minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2 - 3 Tbsp pine nuts
1/4 lb Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup parsley leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Cook the shells according to package directions. While the shells are cooking, gently combine the ricotta cheese, 2/3 cup of pomegranate arils, shredded chicken, minced parsley, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt if necessary, then mix in the beaten egg.
Toast the pine nuts over medium heat, stirring regularly, until nuts are lightly golden (about 2 - 4 minutes.) Remove from pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
When shells are cooked, drain well and rinse with cold water. Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the cheese/pomegranate mixture and place in a lightly-oiled baking dish or casserole.
In a blender or food processor, mix the Gorgonzola with the chicken broth until well blended. Spoon the mixture over the tops of the stuffed shells and bake, covered, for 20 - 25 minutes until filling is set. When cooked, you can finish the dish under the broiler for a minute of two until the topping is lightly colored, if desired.
While the shells are baking, combine the parsley leaves, olive oil, and salt in a blender or food processor until very well blended.
To serve: drizzle each serving with a little parsley oil, then sprinkle with pine nuts and the remaining pomegranate arils. Serves 4 as an entree; 5-6 as an appetizer.
Please join us tomorrow to read our newest daily food feature on HuggingtheCoast.Com.
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