Chicken Manicotti with Fontina

Chicken Manicotti with Fontina
Serves 2
This recipe came about out of desperation. I only had 8 Cannelloni noodles by Barilla leftover, from when I had made manicotti many moons ago. I also had only 2 leftover grilled chicken breasts from the day before. I had no cream, no ricotta cheese, or spaghetti sauce. But, I did have some fontina cheese and some frozen mozzarella, including about 6 or 7 small very ripe tomatoes and fresh basil that needed attention quickly. What to do? Chicken breast sandwiches with tomato? Chicken salad sandwiches? Opps, I had no eggs to make mayo! A chef salad? No. I was in the mood for Italian. Yet I had so little of the usual ingredients on hand. So......
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Ingredients
  1. Cannelloni noodles;
  2. 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese;
Meat mixture
  1. The leftover chicken breasts got cubed finely, ending up with about 2 cups of chopped chicken;
  2. Chopped fresh basil -- 1/2 cup;
  3. 4 garlic cloves, minced;
  4. 1 teaspoon dried oregano;
  5. 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper;
  6. A little flour and milk mixed together for thickening;
  7. Milk -- about 1 cup went in (I just poured without measuring, until it looked like enough;
  8. 1 1/2 cups grated fontina;
  9. Olive oil, about 1/8 cup.
Sauce
  1. Some olive oil;
  2. 6 or 7 small chopped tomatoes;
  3. 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil;
  4. 3 minced garlic cloves;
  5. 1 teaspoon dried oregano;
  6. whole bay leaf;
  7. salt & pepper to taste.
Instructions
  1. The 7 leftover Cannellonis got cooked for 5 minutes in boiling water. Set aside.
  2. I heated the oil in a large frying pan. Then added the minced garlic, the chopped basil, oregano, salt & pepper, and the diced chicken. Mixed well and cooked about 10 minutes.
  3. Then added the milk and the flour/milk mixture. Combined that well. Cooked until thickened and bubbly. Then added the grated fontina and mixed. Took off the stove and set aside.
  4. For the sauce, in a separate pan I added some olive oil, the chopped tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil, 3 minced garlic cloves, dried oregano, bay leaf, and salt & pepper. Cooked the tomatoes until they were soft. Removed the bay leaf.
  5. Stuffed each of the noodles with the chicken mixture. Placed the stuffed manicotti in a small oiled pan. A 7x10 inch glass pan fit them perfectly.
  6. Spread any leftover chicken mixture on top of the noodles. Then spread the sauce mixture on top of that. Then the grated mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/2 cups) on top of it all.
  7. Baked at 350 for 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. So then! My small amount of Cannelloni noodles did not get wasted after all. And my 2 leftover boneless cooked chicken breasts did not end up as a boring chicken salad, nor did they end up on top of some boring green salad. I had no ricotta cheese, no cream, and no spaghetti sauce premade. Yet with very little ingredients on hand, I was actually able to make something out of nothing and it didn't take much time to prepare, even though it looked & tasted like it did. I wish I had gotten a picture! Now I know that I can make manicotti even in a pinch.
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