Looking for a great dinner recipe to make for some friends! I found this stuffed shells recipe on pinterest and instantly fell in loved. I have made this dish several times and each time it never disappoints. I love all aspects of this dish from start to finish. The homemade sauce on top is fabulous. In the past if I dont have time to make the sauce from scratch I have used sauce from a jar but it just never gives it quite the same taste.
Another great tip for this recipe is that you can do all the prep work ahead of time. If you make the filling and sauce before hand, it really makes for a super easy dinner after a long day of classes or work. Just being able to make the shells and have the rest already done is a huge help. I guarantee that if you make this dish for anyone other than yourself you will have them coming back again and again for more.
Some recommendations for the original poster of this recipe: I do these shells with lemon zest in the filling and in the sauce. Not typical, but really tasty. I also love the pop of heat you get from the red pepper flakes in the sauce. I baked this batch of shells family style, in one big pan. But, you can bake individual portions in ramekins, gratin dishes, or Staubs, if you like. Play around with the ricotta filling too – sometimes I add chopped olives, or chopped spinach, herbs, roasted seasonal vegetables, etc.
Sauce: 1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan 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 / ~5 oz grated mozzarella 1 bunch of chives, minced
25-30 jumbo dried pasta shells
Oil a 13 x 9-inch / 33 x 23-cm baking pan, or equivalent, 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 / 180C with a 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.
To make the filling, combine the ricotta, egg, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until combined, then stir in the mozzarella, remaining lemon zest, and 3/4 of the chives. Set aside.
Cook the shells according to package instructions in well-salted water – until al dente. If you overcook, the shells will tear as you attempt to fill them. Drain and let cool long enough to handle with your hands – see photo.
Spread 1/3 of sauce across the bottom of the prepared pan. Fill each shell with ricotta, and arrange in a single layer in the pan. Ladle the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover for the final 15 minutes or until the shells are cooked through. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve hot.
Serves 4 – 6.