Stuffed Shells

Posted on July 11, 2011

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These stuffed shells are out of this world exquisite. They were so good my folks
requested I make them a second night in a row. The ricotta cheese filling was so
divine, and really could be adapted with anything else you have in your fridge
or pantry. The originial recipe called for chives as an add in, but since I
didn’t have any chives I started looking around for a good substitute. I added
in a few thin slices of leeks, some fresh basil, and some parsley. There really
is a lot of room for exploration. The sauce was super simple, just some crushed
tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

It is best, I think, to make a few things ahead of time or to really start making
the dish an hour and a half before you’re wanting to eat. It does take 45 mintes
to cook and you’ll need to wait for the shells to cool before you stuff them.
But, so worth the wait! And I had so much fun making the shells I really wasn’t
paying attention to the time at all. And if you’re pressed for time, I’m sure
you could just put a glove on and stuff away.

This recipe is originally from Heidi Swanson, one of my favorite women right now. She keeps things healthy and
simple, just the way I like it! She also has a ton of great recipes at http://www.101cookbooks.com/.

This recipe also makes a huge serving of food. I prepared just enough pasta for the night and made all of the sauce and ricotta filling so I could store the leftovers in the fridge.

Stuffed Shells
Recipe from 101
Cookbooks

Zest of one lemon

Sauce:

1 1/2 teaspoons
crushed red pepper flakes
scant 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
1 14-ounce can crushed red tomatoes

Filling:

1 15-ounce container
ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup
grated mozzarella
1 bunch of chives, minced (or leeks, parsley, basil, any
fresh herb/vegetable you desire)

25-30 jumbo pasta
shells

Directions:

Oil a 13 x 9-inch or large enough for
your amount of shells, and sprinkle the zest of 1/2 the lemon across it. Set
aside. Get a big pot of water boiling, and preheat your oven to 350F and set
oven rack in the middle.

To make the sauce, combine the olive oil, red
pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the
saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is
fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Now stir in the tomatoes and heat
to a gentle simmer, just a minute or two. Remove from heat and carefully take a
taste (you don’t want to burn your tongue)…If the sauce needs more salt add it
now. Let cool.

For filling: Place ricotta, egg, and salt in a medium bowl and mix until well incorporated. Then stir in mozzarella, remaining lemon
zest, and your choice of herb/vegetable mixture. Set aside.

Cook shells according to package instructions in salted water, al dente. Don’t overcook the
shells or they will fall apart while you are trying to stuff them. Drain and let cool.

Spread 1/3 of sauce across the bottom of the prepared pan. Fill
each shells with the ricotta mixture and place them single layer in your pan.
Spread the remaining sauce over the shells and cover with foil and bake for
thirty minutes, then uncover for final fifteen minutes or until shells are
cooked through. Sprinkle some parsley or leftover herb mixture on top and
serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

The second night I made this with 1/4 of a diced eggplant, coated it with salt and olive oil and
baked it for about ten minutes at 350 degrees and put them underneath the shells.
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Posted in: Main Entree