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Super Stuffed Shells

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Ingredients

  • BASIC RED SAUCE:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 18 jumbo pasta shells - (to 20) (abt half of 12-oz box)
  • 2 cups finely-chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 package frozen spinach - (10 oz) thawed, squeezed dry
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Essence (see Bayou Blast recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes broken into pieces, and their juices
  • 16 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 4 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Details

Servings 18

Preparation

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pasta shells, and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally with a long-handled spoon to prevent the shells from sticking together. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until very soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the ground veal and cook, stirring, until cooked and browned. Add the squeezed spinach and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Add the spinach mixture, the extra-virgin olive oil, Essence, remaining teaspoon of salt, the basil, oregano, and pepper, and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells in the prepared dish.

Pour the Basic Red Sauce over the filled shells and top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

For the Basic Red Sauce: In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to use. (Makes 3 cups)

This recipe yields 18 to 20 stuffed shells.

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