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25 January 2014

Baked Stuffed Shell Pasta (Conchiglioni) With Ricotta, Chicken and Spinach

The day I was preparing this dish, I got a strange message from a friend. She was asking if the address she wrote was where I used to live. I don't usually like messages like that because it can either be bad news or good news, but definitely nothing in between. So I replied, yes, why? If messages can also carry emotions, I could have also sent agitation in full bold letters.

She wrote back that she was there right that moment. Agitation slowly deflating. A friend of hers is renting it and when she entered the house for the dinner she was invited to, it felt so strangely familiar, like she had been there a countless times. She couldn't remember exactly because the house already had a complete makeover. From the color of the walls to the flooring and the layout. The stairs were changed from a peculiar spiral to a normal one.


When we lived there, it was an ultra-modern house with the walls mostly done of glass and inside was a multitude of pin lights that always made my Dad nervous everytime the electric bill arrived. It was a project of a German artist and an architect of modern structures so both minds at work created an aquarium of a house. The artist never lived in it when we bought it from him. Needless to say, when you are inside at night time in your pajamas, with the pin lights on, you have to run for cover from one cement wall to another. Or else the neighbors will be able to memorize all the colors of your pajamas!

Once, it was slated as a film location but as the film crew found out that it's a big version of an aquarium, they backed out. Ahem. In the movie script, our house was supposed to be used as a hideout of kidnappers. Sigh. I guess they were right to back out.  

The pictures had a sentimental side to it. I didn't expect to see our old house like that, in that way. My friend and I spoke on the phone while she guided me around the house, describing every single detail and sending me pictures too. My past memories arrived with intensity. There were so many wonderful things to remember with my parents, my dog, my siblings, our relatives, our friends. It was only that time that I really felt how painful memories can be, however good they are. My parents have been long gone, also my dog and some relatives who visited us frequently. I don't like looking back at times for this reason. It's not because I don't care. It's the contrary. It's because I care too much.

I think this is why I chose a colorful setup for this dish. Our old house had white and gray tone. For its lack of color, that had always bothered me, I put something lively in this setup. If the primary colors don't give life, I don't know what else can.

But you came here for the recipe, so let me tell you about it. I filled up the big shell pasta or conchiglioni as they are called here, with chicken, ricotta, spinach and almonds. Sounds good? Then I covered them up with homemade bechamel sauce. Make your own, don't buy it! It's so easy to make! Don't forget the Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano for it gives the right kick to the dish. Ready to see the recipe? Click on this link to take you to She Knows, where I create recipes. And in this link, you will find the list of recipes I have created for them. Buon appetito!