There is something about stuffed pasta shells that sounds fancy and hard. There is something about making them that is easy and fun. It’s economical and great made ahead. My first love is taking something to friends that maybe they don’t make themselves. It’s hard, as most of my friends are excellent cooks. I have made this several times over the past few weeks and everyone gives it two thumbs up. Add a salad and a loaf of French bread and call it dinner!
1 package of jumbo pasta shells
1 (15 oz) container of ricotta cheese
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I have used traditional, four cheese, Newman’s Marinara, etc.)
10 basil leaves (optional)
8 oz of sliced mushrooms (optional)
sausage, browned and crumbled (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta shells according to the package, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, egg, salt, pepper, and basil (optional). Spread 3/4 of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the 13×9″ inch baking dish. If you like meat/mushrooms/spinach in your spaghetti sauce, you may brown your sausage and add the sauce into the meat.
Place 1-2 Tablespoons of the cheese mixture into the cooked pasta shells and place into the baking dish, seam side up. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a smidge of Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover the last 5-10 minutes.
This is a great meal that can be made the night before. It is also perfect for a potluck, dinner for a neighbor, and also easy to make to accommodate picky eaters by instructing them to “dip shallow” and only get the shells (without the veggies and meat).