Stuffed Shells

with Ricotta and Fresh Peas

 

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I can remember telling people that stuffed shells were my FAVORITE food.  I can remember sitting at my Aunt Ellen’s table eating way more than I should have.  Even at a young age I knew it was a special dish.  Today, I make this on holidays or nice gatherings.  They are good and always get devoured, but do take some time to make because each pasta shell has to be stuffed.

 

Yield: About 38 large shells

Rating: Making the pasta and preparing the cheese filling is not a big deal, but stuffing the shells may not be in everyone’s interest.

 

Ingredients:

1 pound large pasta shells (If you are making this gluten free, then I prefer the Tinkayada brand)

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 whole egg, beaten

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chop then measure

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 jar of marinara sauce (I don’t like the chunky ones for this)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  (325 convection)

 

Fill a large pot ¾ of the way with cold water.  Cover the pot and put on a medium-high flame. When the water boils, add 1 tablespoon of salt and your pasta to the pot.  Cook your pasta according to the package directions.  You do not want anything too al dente.  (Gluten free pasta needs more time – make sure to follow the package directions.)  When it is ready, drain the pot and rinse the pasta in cold water. 

 

Prepare your filling by putting the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, parsley, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper in a bowl and mixing well.

 

Place 3 cups of water in a small pot over medium heat. When the water boils, add your peas and cook for 3 minutes.  Drain the peas and mix into your cheese filling. 

 

Take a large oven-to-table dish (like a Pyrex), and line the bottom with 2 cups of the tomato sauce.  Using a spoon, scoop about 1 tablespoon of the cheese filling into the shells.  Line all the shells into your baking dish.  Feel free to squeeze them all in there.  Take the rest of your sauce and pour it over the shells.  Bake covered for 35 minutes. 

 

Optional: If you like things extra cheesy, you can sprinkle a little extra mozzarella or parmesan cheese on top of the dish for the last 15 minutes of baking.

 

Plan Ahead:

You can bake the whole dish in its entirety up to two days before.  If you choose to bake it early, shave 10 minutes off your cooking time, to allow for warming on the day you serve the shells. Warm at 200 degrees for 40 minutes.