Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stuffed Shells

This is one of those recipes that makes a ridiculous amount of food! It does involve a little bit of work, but also freezes well, so this would be a good weekend recipe. You can make several small pans, having one for dinner immediately and freezing the others for quick and easy dinners later on!

1 lb ground beef (or turkey, or italian sausage)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 container (15 oz) Ricotta cheese
1 cups Mozzarella Cheese
Herbs and spices to taste (I used rosemary, thyme, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper)

Basically, just throw this stuff into a pan and let it get fantastic on you. You could also easily throw in a package of frozen spinach for a little extra something!

You'll also need 1 box of Jumbo Shells (or some other large pasta you can stuff). I boiled mine in batches but I guess you could throw them all into a big pot at one time. You'll only want to boil them about 5-6 minutes because you want them to still be firm enough to be handled and stuffed without falling apart on you!

I cheated and used regular cans of tomato sauce here. Not even the seasoned kind, just the cheap little cans (you'll need 2-3, depending on how saucy you like your pasta) Put a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of your pan to keep the shells from sticking. Crushed tomatoes would also be good here if you like things a little on the chunky side.

When your shells are cooked, just put a good spoonful of filling into each shell and fill your pan(s). Then top with the leftover tomato sauce and more mozzarella cheese.

At this point you can either stick it in the over, cover and refrigerate for later, or wrap in foil and freeze for much later.

When you're ready to cook it, you'll probably want to get it out and let it get a little closer to room temp. If it's frozen you may want to take it out the night before and stick it in the fridge, then pull it out and set it on the counter while the oven pre-heats.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (until everything is hot and melty!)

I am thinking that in the future, I will do this sort of like a baked ziti instead of going to the trouble to stuff the shells. I'm lazy like that. I'm probably also going to make a minor substitution for the ricotta - cream cheese! Not that I don't love ricotta (because I do!) but I don't keep it in the house all that often. However, I almost always have cream cheese, so I could still have my gooey, cheesy pasta without a special trip to the store! Stay tuned for that adventure.

As always, if you try this one, let me know!

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