This made for a heavenly Sunday dinner.
Growing up, it seems my family always had a big meal on Sunday. It was mostly a big lunch, but a lot of times we had a big Sunday supper. I remember we always had a lot of fresh vegetables from the gardens and some kind of meat. And, to this day, I still like to make a nice(r) meal on Sundays. Doesn’t always happen – but most Sundays we have a ‘big dinner’.
Work has really been keeping me busy since New Year’s – but I made time for this last weekend. Having a bunch of homemade ricotta on-hand, I couldn’t think of a better way to utilize than with this classic dish. It was pretty easy to put together – and, let me tell you – using the homemade ricotta made this, hands-down, one of the best things I’ve ever. Freaking. Made.
I’ve made stuffed shells plenty of times before – but I think using homemade ricotta made a big (huge) difference this time.
You’ll start by boiling up the pasta shells. The big ones. Boil them for only half the amount of time – they’ll finish getting tender when you bake everything off later. So boil the pasta in some salted water and set aside to drain. Then you’ll make the sauce. I browned some ground beef for this, along with some diced onions and garlic. You can substitute sausage or veal – or forego altogether for a meatless version.
While the meat sauce is simmering, you can mix up the cheese filling. Mix up some ricotta, parmesan & roman cheeses with an egg, a little salt and pepper, chopped parsley and basil.
Lots and lots of glorious basil.
To assemble, spread a little sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Start filling each of the pasta shells with a generous spoonful of cheese mixture. You’ll want to fill it up, but it doesn’t have to be busting open.
As you fill the shells, line them up neatly in the baking dish until it’s filled up. I usually have several shells left over and I’ll kind of tuck them in around the dish.
Cover the stuffed shells with the sauce you’ve made up and top off with some mozzarella, and even a little parmesan if you like.
Bake it off at 350 for a good 20-30 mins and that’s it!
Let it sit for just a bit after you pull it out of the oven and then dig in. You might as well carb it up even more and have some good bread with it. Enjoy!
- 8 oz, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
- 30 oz, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- 8 oz, weight Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
- ½ cups Grated Romano Cheese
- 1 whole egg
- 12 leaves basil, chopped or chiffonade
- 2 tbsp minced parsley
- Salt And Pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ whole med onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ lb Italian sausage or ground beef
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 whole 28 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 whole 15 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- ½ teaspoons Salt
- 2 tbsp Minced Parsley
Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add meat and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a couple mins.
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.
Bake for 25 mins, or until hot and bubbly.