Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stuffed Shells

Stuffed Shells must be a thing recently as I've seen recipes on several websites as of late. After The Pioneer Woman posted her take, I had gotten the craving for Italian Night as well. I used bits and pieces from her Three Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce posting, but made several changes for the ingredients I had laying around and what I thought might be tasty (please note I hate ricotta cheese, it's a texture thing, so I always substitute cottage cheese when recipes call for can definitely change this back to ricotta if it doesn't give you the heebie-jeebies).

Stuffed Shells
Serves 8

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can of stewed tomatoes
2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
Italian Seasoning, to taste
1 box of jumbo pasta shells
30-32 oz low fat cottage cheese
8 oz Italian Blend shredded cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large skillet brown the sausage together with the onion and garlic (breaking up the sausage just like you would ground beef as you go).
  3. Use a food processor to chop up the stewed tomatoes (just a little...somewhere in between the size of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes).
  4. Add the stewed tomatoes and two cans of tomato sauce to the skillet, and then the sugar, Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Let the sauce come up to a bubble and let it thicken, covered for around 30 minutes.
  6. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil and cook the jumbo shells according to the package.
  7. Drain the shells and rinse with cold water so they are easy to handle when the time comes.
  8. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together cottage cheese, 6 oz of the shredded cheese, parsley, basil, and egg.
  9. Spray a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish with some cooking spray and ladle in a layer of sauce on the bottom.
  10. Stuff your shells with the cheese mixture and place them open-side down on top of the sauce layer. I squeeze in as many of these babies as I possibly can. I never use the entire box of pasta, but since inevitably there are broken pieces and torn shells, it usually works out fine in the end.
  11. Once your casserole dish is lined up with the stuffed shells, ladle on some more sauce to coat (but don't drown the shells...I've made that mistake before in the past) and just save the rest of the sauce so people can put more on their individual servings.
  12. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese (you can totally add more if you like, but one 8 oz package worked out great for me.)
  13. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Another grand success! I think I may have finally found a stuffed shells recipe that will be made again (I've made several over the years, but none good enough to keep around for a second attempt.) The only thing I would suggest is letting the sauce cook and thicken up a bit more as it was pretty runny this first round. I'm pretty stoked to the leftovers for dinner tonight and even more excited that I have found a bread option that both Hubby and I enjoy in the Pillsbury French Loaf. It bakes at the same temperature for the same amount of time so I'm calling this a fated combination.

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