Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stuffed Shells

I started making these long before I got married, the recipe has changed many times over the years, but I think it is perfect now. If you prefer you can easily leave the meat out of this recipe. If you have leftover ricotta mixture do not throw it away, hollow out a red bell pepper or zucchini half and fill it with mixture, bake until vegetable is soft and enjoy!

Make It:
30 - 35 big pasta shells, cooked according to directions on box, and rinsed with cold water to cool off
1 16oz container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup cup fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dry basil
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with basil
3 oz tomato paste
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 chopped bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed but not chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons italian seasoning
1/2 cup good red wine
1/2 pound ground beef

Make It:
In a bowl mix together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, parmesan, salt, pepper and basil. Taste to see if you need more salt and pepper. Stir in egg, refrigerate until ready to use. Heat a large pot over medium high heat, add meat to pot, break up with a spoon. Cook until browned add onion and pepper to pot. Cook stirring often until veggies are soft. Drain off extra grease. Stir in garlic and wine, allow wine to reduce by half. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste, if to thick stir in a little water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and stir in salt and italian seasoning. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While sauce is cooking for those last 30 minutes, preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill shells with ricotta cheese mixture. Use a 13 x 9 casserole dish, place one to two ladles of sauce in bottom of dish, enough to cover the bottom. Place filled shells on sauce. Pour rest of sauce evenly over the top of the shells. Sprinkle rest of mozzarella over top of sauce. Cover with a piece of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for thirty minutes, uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

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