Chicken & pomegranate stuffed shells with Gorgonzola and pine nuts: $2.34/serving

Now, the first thing you might be thinking upon seeing this picture is, Who on earth thought to combine chicken, pomegranates and two kinds of cheese, and what kind of drugs were they on? Sadly, I don’t have the answer to either of those questions, but I’d really like to know the latter, because the combination totally works. This isn’t the first time I’ve made this dish, either, so rest assured I’m not blinded by the novelty. It is a little fussy to prepare with so many different components, but it’s an ingenious way to use up the remains of a pomegranate, as was my purpose in making it, and is definitely fancy enough for company.

Recipe adapted from Hugging the Coast. It makes 4 servings.

• 1 pomegranate (these things are cheap at Winco!), 1 cup of arils picked out (eat the rest for dessert, as we did): $1.98
• 1 cup minced or shredded chicken (I used a couple of poached thighs): $2
• 1/2 box pasta shells: $1
• 4 oz. Gorgonzola: $2.49
• 2 T pine nuts: 50 cents
• 1 egg, beaten (garden): $0
• 1/2 cup chicken broth: 12 cents
• 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing dish: 17 cents
• 15 oz. container of ricotta*: $1.08
• 1/4 cup plus 1 T parsley (garden): $0
• Salt & pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $9.36/4 = $2.34/serving

*I made my own from 3 cups milk and 1 cup cream, using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen but swapping out the lemon juice for vinegar. Be sure to plan at least a few hours ahead.

Cook the shells in salted water until al dente; rinse under cold water and drain well.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, lightly grease a 13×9 Pyrex dish with olive oil.

Combine the ricotta, 2/3 cup of pomegranate arils, chicken, 1 T minced parsley, and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. (Use white pepper if you’re worried about black flakes, but there’s so much going on in the dish that I don’t bother.) Taste for seasoning, then mix in the beaten egg. (Our chickens have been finding so many spring goodies in the yard that the yolks of their eggs are orange, which lent the filling an unappetizing yellow tint. If this happens to you, don’t worry; as you can see above, it’s not noticeable once it’s cooked.)

In a small food processor, combine the Gorgonzola with the chicken broth.

Fill the shells with a large spoonful each of the filling. Spoon the Gorgonzola-broth mixture over the tops and bake uncovered for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Set aside.

Clean out the food processor. Add the 1/4 cup parsley, 1/4 cup olive oil, and a large pinch of salt. Process until as well combined as you can get it. (The motor in my elderly Mini-Prep started to smell so I had to give up before it was totally emulsified, but some chunks are fine.)

Finish under the broiler for a minute or two to get some color. Serve sprinkled with remaining 1/3 cup arils, pine nuts, and a drizzle of parsley oil.

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