we love stuffed shells for meatless monday, sunday supper, or as an easy meal when our pantry is light on fresh meat and produce. [it's your standard "i-totally-didn't-make-it-to-this-grocery-store-this-weekend" recipe] it has become a bit of a cult classic in my repertoire largely because it's easy, requires things i usually have stashed in my house, and tastes great. i especially love this quick but delicious sauce, it's simplicity complements the cheesy taste of the shells so well and i use it as the base for most of my other homemade sauces. .
of course, if you're in a hurry you can simplify this even further and use your favorite jarred tomato sauce!
| ingredients |
dried pasta shells
for the sauce:
1/3 cup evoo, plus a little extra
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large can crushed red tomatoes*
*the original recipe called for another small can of crushed tomatoes (apprx 14 ounces), but i prefer my shells to not be totally drowning in sauce, so i cut it down. if that’s not the way you like to roll, add another small can to the pot.
for the filling:
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup grated mozarella
1 bunch chives, minced
| method |
oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with evoo and set aside. boil a pot of water with a little salt.
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 for 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - don't allow the garlic to brown. stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer, just a minute or two. remove from heat and carefully take a taste. (don't like, burn yourself but test it.) if the sauce needs more salt or any additional seasonings add it now, then set aside.
when the water begins to boil, cook the shells according to package directions (until al dente.) drain and set aside so they can cool. you may run some cold water over them to make them ready to handle asap! just be sure to drain the water off.
preheat your oven to 350 degrees f.
to make the filling, combine the ricotta, egg, and salt in a medium bowl. mix until combined, then stir in the mozzarella, and 3/4 of the chives and set aside.
when shells are cool and you are ready to assemble, ladle 1/3 of sauce across the bottom of the prepared baking dish. fill each shell with ricotta, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. pour the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until the shells are cooked through. sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve hot.