Saturday, November 14, 2020

Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells Baked in Tomato Sauce

Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells Baked in Tomato Sauce

This stuffed shells recipe has been a guilty pleasure that's evolved this year... It's been one of the highlights of my 2020, a year that hasn't been particularly great for any of us. I tried it out the first time while in strict lockdown and bored to death, but also craving something delicious. I've made these stuffed shells time and again, tweaking the recipe every time and it just keeps getting better. I think I've finally nailed it and this dish has become a favourite in my home. It's delicious on it's own, but sometimes I serve it with some Parmesan crusted chicken on the side and some garlicky green beans. It's equally delicious with some garlic bread on the side or a salad would go nicely with it I'm sure. It's worth saying that I love these delicious cheesy shells even more as leftovers... There's something about microwaving them that seems to improve the melty cheesiness, so this is a good one if you want something you can reheat throughout the week.

Cheesy Pasta Shells in tomato sauce

When I make this dish, I like to stuff all the shells first before arranging them into the sauce to ensure I get the cheese divided reasonably between them. You don't have to do this of course. You could just start stuffing the shells quite full and if you have a few left over, just discard them. You can't really get this wrong and while it takes a bit of time to put it together, it's super easy to make. 

200g conchiglioni (large pasta shells)
Salt & splash of olive oil for the pasta cooking water
500g ricotta cheese
50g finely shredded Parmesan cheese
250g shredded mozzarella
1 egg
1 680g jar Passata 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
250ml strong chicken stock
1 tablespoon caster sugar
sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper 

1. Put a large pan of salted water with a splash of oil on to boil. Cook the pasta for slightly less time than instructed on the package so that it's al dente. I usually check on mine about 3 minutes shy of the time specified on the package and then leave it longer if necessary. When ready, strain the pasta, rinse it in cold water until they're cool enough to handle and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C for fan assisted ovens)/400°F. 

3. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella and egg together until well combined and set aside.

4. Pour the passata into a large baking dish. Add the garlic, chicken stock, sugar, salt & pepper (to taste) and mix well. 

5. Using a spoon, stuff each of the shells with the cheese mixture and place them each into the baking dish so that they're sitting in the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden. Serve hot.

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