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Stuffed Shells

July 16, 2008

Laura’s Blog Entry

I make the stuffed shells once or twice a year. They are a bit labor intensive, which is OK when you have time. But I don’t usually have time. When there is a large pasta pot and a food processor involved, I consider that labor intensive. It took me about an hour to put these together. Add baking time to that. I did enjoy some yummy Pomegranate Sparking Water while cooking. It came from our trip to The Fresh Market. We also got some chocolate covered animal crackers that Mari wanted. Good pick, kid! They are very yummy!

On with the shells. These are vegetarian, BTW.

Stuffed Shells

1 T olive oil
2 green onions, minced or 1/2 cup diced onion
6 cups peeled zucchini, shredded (I use the food processor to shred) This is about 3 large zucchini.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-15 oz. container ricotta cheese (I use fat free because I can’t tell the difference and who needs all that fat?)
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten slightly
3 T fresh herbs (I recommend 1 T dill, 1 T parsley, and then an additional T of whatever you want – I used oregano and rosemary, but basil would be good too. Use what is on hand, but the dill adds a different flavor, so I always use that. Don’t use more than 1 T dill though. Too strong!
1-12 oz package jumbo shells, cooked, rinsed and drained
2-28 oz jars of your favorite marinara sauce (we like lots of sauce, you may not need this much if you like it a bit dryer.)
Red pepper flakes, optional – if you sauce is a bit bland, you might want to add a 1/4 teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes. All the cheese can make this a bit bland, so I like a sauce with a bit of a kick to balance it out.

Heat oil on medium high in a very large skillet or sauté pan. Add onion and cook until it begins to soften. Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes until zucchini is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add garlic and incorporate well, cooking only 1 minute more.

If you are a multi-tasker, while filling is cooking, heat water in large pasta pot and cook shells. Or you can finish the filling and then come back to this. Add a small splash of olive oil to the boiling water to keep shells from sticking together. Remove and let cool slightly, separating any that have nested inside each other. Cozy little buggers.

When filling is cooked, remove from heat. Stir in ricotta, parmesan, egg and herbs. Mix well.

Now the messy, boring part. It’s quicker if you can get help. Spray 2 regular-size baking dishes or one huge one with cooking spray. Pour in 1/2 cup or so of the pasta sauce and spread around the bottom.

Fill each shell with a generous tablespoon of filling and place in baking dish. (At this point, you can freeze part of the shells once they are stuffed if you like.)  Top the shells in the baking dish with however much more sauce you want and then bake at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes. Probably closer to 35.

Serves 8.

Note: This makes a ton. I usually freeze part of the batch (without adding the sauce) and only bake half of it at one time.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2008 1:47 pm

    YUM. I *love* stuffed shells so much. Those look amazing!!

  2. July 16, 2008 4:06 pm

    Thanks, Miss Sara!

  3. July 16, 2008 11:04 pm

    That looks awesome.

    Nice string of posts lately, you’re keeping us entertained AND informed out here in the plains!

  4. July 17, 2008 9:36 am

    Thanks, Gene! There’s been lots more time for blogging since we’re taking a vacation – albeit a home vacation. Coming soon: More knitting. You know you want it!

  5. July 18, 2008 12:55 am

    In addition to the red pepper added to the sauce, I find that adding a 1/3 cup of sugar to it takes away the “bite” of canned (jarred) marinara.

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