It all started with a package of big pasta shells.
I couldn't resist, I had always looked at them but figured it would be too fussy to make.
I was wrong.
About two days
before I made this dish, I was rummaging around in my pantry when my
package of pasta shells slid out and crashed about 5 feet to my stone
floor. Crap! I busted up about a 1/3 of the noodles. Darn my
rummaging around anyway!!! Oh well, I was able to salvage quite a few
of them, and used all the broken bits later on too.
this meal is all about the pasta, it really is the the terrific sauce
that makes it. I am sure you have tried a simple, sublime tasting red
sauce and wondered how to make it so delicious at home.
Remember the KISS principle? Keep It Simple Stupid.
funny part for me is that I have always over complicated my sauces by
overdoing it. Too many additions, too many spices, too much other
stuff. My recommendation? Keep it simple. Either that, or just buy a
pre-made sauce. That works too.
sauce recipes makes about double that you need for this dish, but it is
nice to have leftover yummy sauce for other things. I stashed my extra
sauce in the freezer for later, but, by all means, feel free to halve
the recipe if you don't want extras..
more spot of advice, use more sauce under and over the shells than you
think, I felt I skimped a bit on the sauce which was a shame as I had so
much. I was worried of drowning those cute little stuffed shells. So
slather on the sauce and don't skimp on the cheese either!
Serves about 8
1/2 onion, minced or 2-3 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cans crushed tomatoes
Red pepper flakes, optional
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 12oz pkg of large pasta shells, cooked for about 11-12 minutes (very al dente)
1 15 oz ricotta cheese
1-2 Tbsp basil, minced
1 Tbsp chives, or parsley,minced
1 tsp salt
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
In a large pot, get 4-5 quarts of salted water on to boil.
When boiling, add the noodles and cook about 12 minutes, stirring so they don't stick.
Drain and cool.
These will be somewhat hard still, but that makes it easier to fill them later on. They will continue cooking in the oven.
make the sauce, mince the onions, garlic and any fresh herbs you are
using. I find that a food processor makes short work of that!
them over medium high heat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil for
about 5-7 minutes, until they start to soften and turn translucent. Add
the cans of crushed tomatoes and the red pepper flakes (if using).
Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to keep a
lid on the sauce, and it tends to splatter as it is rather thick. If
wanted you can add a little water to keep it at the consistency you
a small bowl (or the food processor from step 1 above...) Mix the
ricotta, the egg, fresh pepper and minced herbs. Add the salt. I
tasted it to make sure I liked the taste.... but some people may not eat
raw egg. Heck, I eat cookie dough- - same thing, right? You could add
some of the cheese to the filling, but I didn't think about it until
a cooled pasta shell and fill with the filling. I used a small cookie
scoop, it worked perfectly. Fill each shell and place in a baking dish.
could make one large pan, like a 9x13, but I elected to use a bunch of
small dishes for individual servings. Oil up each pan and add a thin
layer of red sauce ( I didn't do this, but I will do it next time...).
Top with more sauce and grated cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until
the cheese and sauce are bubbly and melted.
those broken bits of pasta? No matter, I just layered the broken bits,
topped with the ricotta mixture, sauce and then cheese.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Watch the smaller dishes, they may be done quicker.