#SundayCookingAdventures: Lower calorie stuffed pasta shells

2014-10-12 13.25.36

I debated posting this recipe. In fact, I made this dish about a month ago and I wasn’t sure it looked very appetizing. It was inspired by a recipe from Weight Watchers that was a lower calorie four-cheese version of mac and cheese that I have posted previously.

I added chicken and broccoli to make this a little more filling and add more nutrition. But I skipped the macaroni and instead, stuffed large pasta shells with the mixture.

I have to say it was REALLY good, but it didn’t look too good to me, so I never posted it. But I showed the photos to some friends of mine and they said it looked pretty good to them.

So, here it is. You can decide for yourself. All I can tell you is it tasted wonderful. A lot of flavor comes from the blue cheese, and it doesn’t take much. This was comfort food that I needed at the time, and it doesn’t pack as many calories as traditional mac and cheese. I would say a serving of this is about three shells (You can plug this recipe into an online nutrition calculator and get the exact nutritional info.) More than that, and you’re taking it way over the top portion wise. But three shells is plenty filling if you put your fork down between bites and pay attention to the taste.

Let me know how you like it.

Lower calorie stuffed pasta shells with chicken and broccoli


Cooking spray
One 12-ounce box of large pasta shells (whole wheat if you can find them — I couldn’t)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard, to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 low-sodium bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon low-sodium chicken flavored granules.
2 1/2 cups skim milk
2 cups onions, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
5 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese or 5 ounces colby cheese, grated
3 ounces low-fat cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground (or to taste)
2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated
One 12-ounce bag of frozen broccoli, cooked al dente.
3/4 to 1 pound of cooked chicken, shredded with forks or cut into cubes. You could use the meat from a grocery store rotisserie chicken. I roasted 3 skinless chicken breasts that weighed about a pound.


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a large lasagna dish with cooking spray; set aside. (I filled both an 11-by- 15 baking dish AND an 8-inch-square baking dish with this recipe). Cook pasta shells as directed on package, omit salt; set aside.

2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly add flour, stirring constantly; cook for about 3 minutes until bubbly. Add dried mustard (to taste) and low-sodium bouillon cube (or chicken flavored granules) and paprika. Slowly whisk in milk to thoroughly incorporate flour mixture. Stir in onion and bay leaf. Simmer for about 15-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened (this takes awhile, so be patient). Remove from heat.

3. Combine blue cheese and cheddar cheeses (or colby and cheddar) with the milk mixture in the saucepan and season to taste with pepper. Reserve about a cup of sauce and set aside. Mix remaining sauce with broccoli and chicken in a bowl.

4. Put about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture into each shell and place shells side by side in baking dish(es). Pour reserved sauce over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Yields 3 shells per serving.

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