This was my first time making stuffed shells. While growing up, my Godmother would slave away in the kitchen. She would say how hard stuff shells and manicotti was to make. We would all hear curses and ouches coming from the kitchen. Believing that, I really never ventured to the "stuffed" category.
Since I make a very MEAN lasagna, my mother suggested stuffed shells. I put some thought into it and couldn't come up with why it would be as hard as I remember my Godmother saying it was. You know me, I started playing around basing it off my lasagna ingredients. The results were FANTASTIC. Not only was this cheaper than lasagna...it was such a very easy meal to put together. I've come to the conclusion either my Godmother was a airhead in the kitchen or a total drama queen. Probably both.
I really love adding the cottage cheese to this. Gives it a great richness and compliments the ricotta perfectly. I did cheat and used shredded Italian cheese. I'm trying to save a little on our food budget and I love the taste of Fontina, Asiago, and Ramano with Italian tomato dishes. No simple Parmesan would do for this dish. I seriously believe I was a rat in my former life.
Great dish for those families on a budget but don't want to scrimp on flavor!
Sorry about the poor quality on the pics. I had no time to plate with the kids growling at my feet.
Stuffed Shells the Homegrown Way
1 box Jumbo shell pasta
1 (80z) package Sargento Classic 6 Cheese Italian Blend
1 (16oz) container Ricotta cheese
1 (16oz) Cottage Cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
Sauce of choice (basic meat sauce recipe below)*
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add shells. Cook for 12-15 minutes. Pasta should be softened but still firm in the center. Drain and let cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup Italian cheese blend, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, and parsley. Mix well.
Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of casserole or baking dish to prevent pasta from sticking.
Spoon cheese mixture into each shell and place on baking dish. Top the shells with desired amount of meat sauce. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until cheese and sauce is bubbly. Top with remaining shredded Italian cheese. Return to oven to melt. ENJOY!
Basic Meat Sauce
2 medium onions, diced
1 tablespoon oil
2 lbs ground beef
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 (28oz) can stewed tomatoes
2 (5 1/2oz) cans tomato paste
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white wine
In a large pot, saute onions in oil. Add ground beef and brown. Drain and return to pot. Add tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, pepper, salt, garlic cloves, Italian seasoning and wine. Cook on low for two hours.