This one-dish meatless meal has always been considered a comfort food in my mind, and one that I’m more likely to make during the colder months of the year. However, I had all the right ingredients, but in small quantities, so I put together a smaller-sized version, while I was cooking on the weekend, refrigerated it, and had it ready to pull out and stick in the oven on a weeknight when I knew I would be having a busy day. The ingredients for the filling are some of the same ones as for the stuffed portabellos, therefore I had open containers that needed to be used up.
This meal takes me back to my years living at home when my mother made it often with her homemade marinara sauce. That’s usually what I do also, but as I said this is my “quickie” version. I don’t think that I would have included it here on the blog except for Mr. D’s urging. My thoughts are that most people must know how to make stuffed shells, but Mr. D. thinks otherwise. He says it is excellent and I should share it, so here is how it all goes together.
JUMBO PASTA SHELLS WITH CHEESE FILLING
Yield: Serves 4 – 5
- 16 – 20 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed as dry as possible
- 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 jar (30 0z. ) prepared spaghetti sauce or homemade marinara suce
1. Prepare pasta as directed on the package. Undercooked a little so they keep their shape is good. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain and arrange on a kitchen towel in a single layer ready to fill.
2. Meanwhile mix together the ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and the Parmesan cheese. Add egg, spinach and seasonings and mix to blend well.
3. Using a smallish spoon, fill the shells with the cheese mixture.
4. Lightly spray a square baking dish ( 9″ square) with baking spray. Spoon sauce into the bottom of the dish, enough to cover the bottom in an even layer. Arrange the shells in a single layer on the sauce.
5. At this point, if you will be baking the casserole at a later time, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you plan to bake it. If baking now, continue by pouring 1 – 1 1/2 cups more sauce over the shells and bake at 350*F for 30 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with additional mozzarella cheese. Turn off the oven and allow the dish to remain in the warm oven to melt the cheese.
6. To bake at a later time: remove the casserole from the fridge about 1 hour ahead to bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven and then bake as above, sprinkling on the mozzarella at the end of baking time.
Note: a serving is 3 – 4 shells per person. Serve with a side salad and garlic bread if desired.
SOURCE: Family recipe, source unknown