MAKEAHEAD WEEKNIGHT DINNERS:CAJUN STUFFED SHELLS

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Do you have a recipe that you love and that you recreate a million plus ways?! That’s how I feel about my go to Cajun Sauce and Chicken. From traditional pasta, to spaghetti squash, we use it all the time. We even just eat it with rice. It’s become a household favourite mainly because it is so easy to make. At this point in time I don’t even measure anything- I could pretty much make it with my eyes closed!

I’ve been wanting to make stuffed shells for quite some time now but couldn’t decide what sauce I wanted to use. Eventually I decided on the tried and true Cajun Sauce that I know Ara loves too.

It’s ridiculously easy to make- the sauce can actually all be made ahead of time- and it’s tasty! No strange ingredients you’ve never heard of, and lots of leftovers. Perfect all around!

For purely selfish aesthetic reasons I opted to put less shells in my baking dish- I highly suggest you add more though because you’re going to eat a lot of it!

It’s the perfect dinner on a weeknight like tonight. There’s so much going on with the holidays that we can all just use a little home cooked meal, am I right?! Between the parties, shopping and errands, it can be so easy to gravitate towards takeout. Keep this recipe on rotation and it will come in handy one of these busy nights- I promise you!

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Cajun Chicken Stuffed Shells

serves 4-6

You’ll need:

  • 1 package shells
  • 4 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 28 ounce can whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes * if using whole, gently crush them with your hands when you add to pot
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2-3 tbsp cajun spice, divided
  • 1 pound skinless chicken breast, cut into small strips
  • half a cup flour
Step One: Prep

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Boil water in a large pot. Add salt if desired and cook pasta shells according to package.

Whisk together flour and one tablespoon cajun spice. Add in chicken strips and toss to coat. Step Two: Prepare sauce

Heat a medium skillet over medium. Add oil and when hot, toss in chicken.
Cook 2-3 minutes per side until cooked throughout. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Using the same pan, add in the garlic and green pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Add in 1 tbsp cajun spice, tomato paste and stir. Toss in spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes until spinach starts to cook down. Gently pour in tomatos and sauce. Let sauce simmer covered for 5-10 minutes on low heat.

If you like things spicy, now’s the time to add in that extra tablespoon of cajun spice!

Pour in cream into cajun sauce. Stir and let simmer an additional 5 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup parmesan sauce to thicken.

Step Three: Get ready to fill the shells!

Scoop out 1/4 of the sauce and set aside. Add chicken strips to the smaller portion of sauce You’ll have two sets of sauce! One with chicken, one without!

Pour 1/2 of remaining sauce in the bottom of a large oven safe casserole dish or pyrex. Gently take the shells and spoon in chicken/sauce mixture. You can probably fit a good tablespoon or so in each shell. Place on top of sauce in pyrex. Repeat for however many shells you’ll be using.

cajun-chicken-dinner Step Four: Finish things up

Once done, top the shells with the remaining 1/2 of sauce (that’d be the half without chicken!) Top shells with shredded mozzarella and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional ten. Remove, garnish with any herbs you may have on hand and serve!

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Photography by Lisa Renault Photographie

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