.. stuffed shells ..

I've been crap about the blog, and that's mostly because I've been super busy at work, and then also went to New York for a quick trip to visit friends (oh, the food!), and have been sickity-sick-sick pre and post New York. Regardless, that's no excuse! I have a great backlog of pics to share though, so that's something to look forward to, at least.

I made Italian Stuffed Shells awhile back. They're super simple to make, and oh, so delicious. I ended up making so much that I froze a whole tray of them for later, and you can do that too. Basically freeze the shells and sauce separately, and do that prior to baking. Make sure your containers are airtight. There's nothing worst than weird freezer smell to go with your food. Then when you're ready to eat, take it out, thaw both the sauce and shells, pour the tomato sauce on top, grate some parmigiano reggiano cheese, and bake! Presto, you've got a delicious dinner in no time.

Let me back up a little though. So, years ago, I saw Paula Deen make a super easy recipe of Italian Stuffed Shells that seemed pretty delicious. Admittedly, Italian cuisine is not the first thing you think about when you think of Paula Deen, butter queen, but it still looked pretty good back in the day. So, I decided to make a version of her dish for myself, and have since ramped it up a bit. I don't often make the same dishes too many times over, but this has certainly been made at least a handful of times throughout the years.

Cook pasta shells almost but not quite to al dente, since it will continue to cook in the oven. You want them to be firm enough, so that when you stuff the shells, they don't break on you.

Make your favorite tomato sauce. My sauce has tons of onions and garlic, canned San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes if they're in season, lots of parsley, basil, chili pepper, other assorted herbs and spices, and a touch of honey to balance out the acidity. If you'd like, you can add a bit of the starchy salty pasta water to your sauce.

The filling is where you can be creative! I like the spinach in there, and I have a mix of 2:1 ground beef to hot Italian sausage. Saute the meat with garlic and onions, and season to your liking, and also add in the spinach at the end. Frozen or fresh spinach is fine, but if it's fresh, it should be quickly blanched, then allowed to cool. Before adding the spinach to the meat mixture, make sure to squeeze out all the excess liquid. It should be dry as possible, as you don't want too watery a filling. Any excess meat juices, etc., can be removed as well, and even added to the tomato sauce, if you're not into wasting meaty goodness. Once the meat mixture has cooled down, add your cheese to the party. I make this different each time, but on this occasion, I used a mix of ricotta, cream cheese, mascarpone, and parmigiano reggiano. Love all the creaminess with the salty bite of the parmesan. Add a couple of eggs to bind.

The next step is kind of fun, if you're into stuffing things. Hehe, okay, so this is easiest if you hold shells in hand, and stuff away with a spoon. Lay out the little darlings in a casserole dish, and no worries about snugly packing them in there.

Pour your homemade tomato sauce on top. Grate some parmigiano reggiano on there as well.

Cover and bake for about 30-45 min, 350-375 degrees fahrenheit, until everything is bubbly hot, and then take off the foil and broil for a couple minutes. I like when some of the pasta bits and cheese up top get a little more golden brown and charred.

Not the prettiest dish, but oh, so good and comforting.


  1. delish. more food posts please!!

  2. Yes, I have so many more food pics to share!! Finally slowing down a bit at work, so I can do more blogs posts and also update the shop for once :)


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