Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stuffed Shells: Simple, Easy, Meatless Italian Supper

Mama says, "Clean up your plate!"

Don't know about where you're at, but here in Michigan, we've been having NOVEMBER weather. We had a dry March and April for the most part, and May brought with it dark, cloudy, cold bone-chilling wind and damp days.

On days like that, having the oven on for a bit helps warm things up, and it's even better if what's in the oven smells and tastes good when it's taken out for supper.

So, today, I'm sharing a good recipe with those of you plagued with cold and dreariness. I love the grill and picnic-like suppers, but on days when the rain's pouring and the wind cuts right through, it ain't gonna happen! ; - 0

I've had this blog for almost three years now,and I can't believe I've never shared this recipe with's one of my favorite meatless suppers, and it's good, too!

So many times we think of meatless as boring, and men especially think so, too.But I never hear one complaint when this one's put on the table.It's YUMMY!

(Some people include meat in their stuffed shells, that's fine, but for us, this is how we love it!)

All you need is a salad and maybe some garlic bread and it's meal fit for a king!

You will need:
Jar of spaghetti sauce (you probably won't use the whole thing)
cottage or ricotta cheese or both (at least 16 oz. of one kind or both)
2 eggs, beaten
16 oz. Mozzarella
Parmesan cheese, dried or fresh (a half cup or more total)
Lawry's garlic salt with parsley
Preheat oven to 375

This recipe serves four, with a few leftover.
If you want to make a bigger batch, they serve well leftover.

Start with some Jumbo Shells, four to five per adult, a couple extra thrown in for good measure, cooked al dente'.

I cook in water with a bit of sea salt, and a plop of oil so they won't stick to each other or the pan. Then when done, I drain and rinse in cold water while they sit in the colander; in order to make them a better temp to handle. When they've cooled down, I shake the colander well to get rid of the extra water.

To insure an easy clean-up, spray your casserole dish with some Pam on the sides and the bottom, and spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce.

In a mixing bowl, use a half large container (24 oz.) of large curd cottage cheese (ricotta can also be used or ricotta and cottage cheese together) , two eggs, Parmesan (canned or fresh, or both if you have it) and some shredded mozzarella (start with a little over half a sixteen ounce package). I also season with Lawry's coarsely ground garlic salt and parsley, but it's not a necessity.

The measurements I don't have, I just make it so that it the consistency of the filling can be put easily with a spoon into the shells. You can see here that I have a bit of seeping but you don't want the mixture too dry, either. If you think it's too runny, the best policy is to add more mozzarella. Just be sure to save a little to sprinkle on the top of the completed dish.

Stuff all the shells and lay them open side down in a casserole dish.
Do you see the beauty here?

Now it's lookin' even better!

Squeeze them all in, there will be some shrinkage so don't worry if they're crowded...(they're just one big, happy Italian family!). Cover the top by spooning more spaghetti sauce over the top.

Sprinkle the leftover mozzarella on top of spaghetti sauce, cover the pan with foil and put into a pre-heated 375-degree oven. Cook in the top third of the oven for around a 30-40 minutes, or perhaps a little longer, removing the foil for at least ten minutes to brown the top and edges.

**This dish is an excellent candidate for baking in individual-size casserole dishes. If you do this, reduce the cooking time and perhaps the temp to 350. This is also an excellent dish to bake in your iron fry pan, which would also decrease baking time slightly.

Looks good....just how we like it!
(See how they shrunk up a little to fit the filling inside?), gooey, and chewy. Now, you can check for doneness by removing a single shell from near the center, setting it on a plate and letting it sit to cool for a minute. Cut with a fork, if the inside is NOT runny, it's ready to eat! The cheese should bake into a chewy semi-solid center that can be held with a fork.

Cool slightly and serve.



Heather Lee said...

This looks so good!!! You have definitely been holding out on us :P Adding it to my menu next week!
Thank you and God Bless,

Faith said...

Oh yes these are good, and one of my family a matter of I am going to the grocery store, and will get some ingredients for this..I have been asking what does anybody have a tast for.." I don't know"..this is a good one..I make a double batch and freeze it for when I have to work supper is made, just reheat for the guys. May I please have your pickle recipe? The one in the BIG jar? I found a jar just like it, and want to make pickles
like you did....Palllllllease...I have emailed and asked 3 or 4 your comments...please pretty please....
I am guessing vinegar, dill, garlic and pickles, what proportion
of garlic for large mason jar..?

Michelle, All Home and Love said...

Mmmmm...that looks good! We're having pasta night here tonight. Farfalle pasta, meatballs and buttered rolls. It's the one night for dinner my kids don't complain! lol

The weather has been like that here too, very damp and cold. I'm ready to get some landscaping done but I'm stuck waiting for the warm weather to return.

Faith said...

ps...Ne Ohio...damp, and chilly last 3-4 days...I want to wash and flap....:( This meal would be really good with those garlic breadsticks....fam loves them. I made two extra batches of bread dough the other day and froze them so when we can have them faster next mm gooood...

Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

Faith: Your email isn't enabled so I can't reply by email, and here's the pickle recipe, I replied with a link a while back, but you must not have seen it. Here's the cut and pasted recipe, are you planting picklers in your garden? You need to have good sun for these might need to wait to make them until we have solid summer weather and until the picklers are ready to pick!

Here's the recipe:

Use clean gallon glass jars

Wash pickles, cut out the bad spots if they have any and wash thoroughly and rinse.
Then, go out to the old fencerow and pick yourself some nice big grape leaves, or call your neighbor or anyone who has 'em growin', tame or wild. You'll need these for color. Wash them and set aside.
Also, go out to the garden and cut some of that fresh dill that seeds itself year after year. Sniff deeply. Then wash and set aside. Sniff deeply again.
(See, it's fun already!)

In the very bottom of the jar, put the first layer: consisting of grape leaves, then dill heads, then 1-3 garlic toes (or more if you like your dills very garlic-y!)

Pack in the clean pickles to the halfway point on the jar, then add another layer of the grape leaves, the dill heads, and the garlic toes. Again, use as much of the dill and the garlic as you like!

Finish packing the pickles in up to the top of the jar. On the very top, you will need to lay grape leaves so they're directly under your lid. (Leave room for the brine to be poured over, then rearrange if you have to so the pickles don't touch the inside of the lid. You want the grape leaves to be on the very top.)

Then, mix 1/2 c. kosher salt
3-1/4 c. white vinegar
and about 5-6 c. water (may take less if they're really packed in there.)

Pour the salt/water/vinegar solution over all the pickles. Cover, and set in the sun. Give the jar a turn each day for one week. Then bring them in and refrigerate them. They last in the fridge for EVER, but they're so good, you won't have to worry about how long they'll last!

Lauren said...

Oh I love stuffed shells! But I have never made them, but I need too! These look great!

Hollace said...

This looks so yummy! I wish I had it right here right now. Thanks for making the recipe so user-friendly. I really will try this one out.

Vicki's Bit-o-earth said...

Hi Joni, Its nice to get back to your blog! Life has kept me so busy that I haven't had time to get around to my fav blogs lately. I've been missing them! The shells look delicious, and I'm definitely going to try them! I'm wishing warm weather on you up there my birth state~ (: xxxVicki

Anonymous said...

Hi, This recipe looks delicious. I also make it for my family as well. I love your blogs and it is so refreshing to how you use your antiques, linens, and special finds.I enjoyed your vintage bridal shower, so pretty. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge. Take care~Emelia~

Tanya said...

My mouth watered looking at those pictures..Pasta...ahhhhhh the best!! On my menu SOON!! Thanks for sharing...sorry about the crummy weather...Eastern Kansas has been rainy but sun is back out and maybe back into the 70's next week. We need it that sunshine, huh?

jamjar said...

I love it when the cheese gets crusty and chewy!!!

Faith said...

Oooooh Thank you Joni...I have some dill seeds to plant..the cukes we will get at a local farmer's market. Thank you for sharing the recipe...the grape leaves...hmmmm.......I'm working on that...the garlic is in the ground waiting to be harvested, all I need is the cukes, the dill,
the grape leave and lots o sunchine...

Ali said...

Oh I have gotten behind on my blog reading again! This looks absolutely delicious!! I love cheese stuffed pasta so this is a must try! Can't wait to make it =)