Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells

Some time ago, when I discovered that I liked Italian food, I tried a stuffed shells recipe and fell in love.

I can’t even remember whose recipe this is now, because I’ve modded it a little bit and am not sure what’s what.

But I’ll tell you what my favorite thing is about this stuffed shells recipe – it is (of course) the cheese filling.  ?

Something about this cheese filling makes it so melty and gooey once it bakes.  I personally think it has to do with using egg yolks (and not the whole egg) in the ricotta mixture.  I use this method of egg yolks only in my //lasagna// recipe, which yields a positively heavenly layer of ricotta.

Anyway, I do hope you’ll like these stuffed shells!  These are great served alongside a light salad and some warm crusty bread to sop up the sauce and cheese left after devouring the shells.  ?

Stuffed Shells

1/2 box jumbo pasta shells (about 18 shells)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
5 cups marinara sauce, or your favorite jarred tomato sauce (this ends up being about 2-3 jars)
15oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
Minced fresh parsley and basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups of shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a small stockpot (I use an 8qt stock pot) full of water to a boil. Salt the water, then drop in the pasta shells. Cook for 4-6 minutes, just until barely al dente, and drain.

2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn, about 1 minute. Add crushed red pepper flakes. Pour in the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer, stirring often.

3. Stir ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolks, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper together in a bowl and set aside.

4. Spray a large baking dish (preferably 13×9) with cooking spray, and ladle some of the tomato sauce across the bottom. You will want it to be a pretty thick layer, so that your shells are nestled nicely into the sace. Fill each of the cooked shells with some of the cheese mixture (I use a tiny spatula to do this). Arrange stuffed shells in the sauced baking dish.

5. Spoon sauce over the center of each stuffed shell. I also dot the tips on each end with sauce. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Add more sauce to the bottom of the baking dish, between the shells, if desired.

6. Bake in the lower third of your oven until the filling is heated through and the top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.