Stuffed Shells

TGIF!

For some reason this week dragged for me..I don’t know what it was but I think I have an idea. It has started to get colder in the morning. Not freezing, but definitely more “fallish.” It makes me want to stay snuggled up in my bed and not leave. BUT as we all know, when you have a 1 year old there is a built in alarm clock waiting to go off at 6am every morning. So that might be why I have been feeling so tired.

Not only have I wanted to stay in bed, I have also wanted to eat comforting foods this week. I made a delicious chicken and lime soup that I will share soon as well as these yummy stuffed shells.

Stuffed shells fall into the “comfort food” category for me. I love eating them alongside a nice loaf of Italian bread and a good bottle of red wine.

The key ingredient in this recipe is lemon zest. I love the flavor of lemon. I use lemon a lot—for dressings, in my water, in soups. The lemon zest in this recipe is what in my mind, makes it so great.

My husband and I have tried making stuffed shells without the lemon zest, but that didn’t last long. After trying them once minus the lemon zest we went back to using it. When I was looking for a stuffed shells recipe I found one on 101 Cookbooks website that looked easy enough and delicious—so I thought I’d give it a try. It turned out wonderfully and for those busy people out there if you can use a pre-made or frozen, leftover sauce that you have it will save you time, which is what I did.

The recipe calls for shells

a yummy cheese mixture consisting of ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg, salt and chives

which you carefully put into the cooked shells

and then line up in a baking dish

add some sauce

bake in the oven and enjoy!

Slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Serves 5-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 min

Ingredients
1-16oz jar of marinara sauce (I used my frozen, leftover crock pot marinara sauce)
One lemon, zested
1 -15-ounce container ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1 bunch of chives, minced
25-30 jumbo dried pasta shells
Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Oil a baking pan (in my case it was a large and small pan to fit 30 shells).
  3. For the filling – combine the ricotta, egg, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until combined, then stir in the 1 cup mozzarella, lemon zest, and the chives. Set aside.
  4. Cook the shells according to package instructions – until al dente. Drain and let cool long enough to handle with your hands.
  5. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce across the bottom of the prepared pan. Fill each shell with the cheese mixture and arrange in a single layer in the pan. Cover the shells with the remaining sauce, cover with lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for the final 10 minutes or until the shells are cooked through.

Notes:

  • Be careful how long you cook the shells- if you overcook them they will tear apart when you try to fill them and if you under cook them they will be too chewy.
  • You can sprinkle more chives over the top once the shells are done cooking if you want.

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