September 24, 2010

The Stuffed Shells Story

Years ago when I was first married, my mother in law used to make Stuffed Shells. I never heard of these before. And so I asked her how do you make them? I wanted to learn since my new husband loved them. She told me how to make the stuffing and to buy large pasta shells. And so that's what I did.

I made my homemade spaghetti sauce and proceeded to put this together. I sat there stuffing over 100 shells. Took me all afternoon and I thought to myself.......these people are nuts. I'm never making this again! And so I finished the recipe and presented them to hubby. Of course he loved them, and I said good!, cuz I AM NEVER MAKING THESE THINGS AGAIN! Who stuffs over 100 shells for a meal unless your feeding an army?

And so the story got told to his mother because she wanted to know how they turned out. She laughed and I got upset. You see this lil Polish/Hungarian  girl never heard of Stuffed Shells before this and didn't know they also made JUMBO SHELLS. That's what I should have used! lol So once I found them in the store, the recipe finally made sense to me. That was 40 yrs. ago,  Ive made it often thru the yrs.

These can be made and frozen before or after cooking. They usually make a lot so its good you can freeze them. Unless you were having a houseful of people, you're going to have leftovers!

Italian Stuffed Shells

1 box of JUMBO pasta shells
1 lb. of mozzarella cheese
2lb. ricotta cheese
S & P
2 eggs
A couple tbsp. chopped parsley
Grated Romano cheese
Parmesan cheese
Your favorite spaghetti sauce, homemade or not but homemade is better

Cook pasta shells till al dente. Cook them too long and they fall apart. You want them done but still with a bit of bite to them. Drain and let cool.

Meanwhile make the stuffing. Cut up the mozzarella cheese into cubes about 1/2 in. Some folks shred the cheese on a grater and you certainly can do that but we like chunks of melty cheese in these better. Put into lg. bowl with ricotta. I used part skim but it doesn't matter what kind you use. 

Chop some parsley, I do about 2-3tb. You will be tasting this so if you feel it needs more when you taste add it but I start with this. Add S & P. I add alot of pepper but go ez on the salt since the grated Romano adds alot. I buy a big chunk of Romano and freshly grate it but you can buy what you want. We use it alot so I always have a chunk around here. I would say start with about a 1/2c. and mix it in, then taste. You want it to have flavor but not be salty or bland. You need to add enough of the things to the mix so that it is not bland.  

 When its to your taste, add the eggs and beat in well. Take each shell and stuff till full. I use one lg. soup spoon and one big scoop is usually enough. The shells are ez to fill if you squeeze them gently from end to end. They are a bit like those old fashioned coin purses that you squeezed to open. Place shells in lg. baking pan. It will fill a 13 x 9 pan with some leftover. Just put them in a smaller pan. Pour spaghetti sauce over to just cover. You will use the rest when you serve these. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover with foil.

Bake at 350 till hot and bubbly about 30min. or so. These are quite filling so a serving of 4 is plenty for most people. Top with hot spaghetti sauce and serve.

Sometimes I make this in two smaller pans and freeze one unbaked for another meal. I also roughly cut up any broken cooked shells and toss them in the pan before I put the sauce on. They cant be filled but they are still pasta, so why waste them?


lemonverbenalady said...

Oh, these look delish! We had pasta for dinner and I make homemade sauce so it would be easy to make with JUMBO shells. I would have been like you stuffing those tiny shells! Amazing what we put ourselves through for our partners!

coriander said...

Stuffed shells are delicious. Now that it's fall I'm craving hearty pasta dishes. I wish I had canned tomatoes this year but it was kind of a lousy year for my garden.

Fearless Nester said...

Oh that was the best story ever with you trying to stuff those tiny pasta shells! I have a few like that too. Boy, doesn't that look yummy! ~Lili