The most request dish from our friends & family
With Thanksgiving... and Christmas, right around the corner, I felt it was appropriate to share our go-to (aka most asked for dish) around this time of year! If you're new around here, you may not know, but Nathan is the cook in our family... I am.. well not. Lets just leave it at that.
I don't remember the first time that Nathan made stuffed shells for my family, but once he did, there was no going back. Now, EVERY family gathering, these are requested.... okay, maybe demanded? ….if we show up without them, we're in trouble. We also make this dish (or a different baked past dish) when we host friends for dinner - It's quick, easy and always a crowd pleaser!
The secret to this recipe though, is Nathan's homemade gravy. Yes, I said gravy because if you're Italian, you know that gravy is "sauce". Don't call it sauce around Nathan, he will quickly correct you.
But anyways, back to the gravy. Nathan makes his own gravy and I swear, that's why everyone loves these so much. In the recipe below, it calls for jarred sauce, which you can definitely use - but if you, or someone you know, can make homemade gravy... I highly recommend using that instead. It is so worth it and you'll taste the difference. I'm not going to share how Nathan makes his... because well, it's kind of a secret/he makes it different every time.
Stuffed Shells Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes // Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people // Skill Level: Easy
1/2 Box of Jumbo Shells
1 Jar of Marinara Sauce
1 1/3 Cup of Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Mascarpone Cheese
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
2. Cook pasta in boiling water for 9 minutes. Drain and cool on a sheet pan. Set aside.
3. Mix together the Ricotta, Mascarpone, half the Parmigiano, half the Mozzarella, parsley, salt and pepper. Fill the shells.
4. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; add half the sauce. Arrange the shells (opening up), cover with the remaining sauce, Mozzarella and Parmigiano.
5. Bake covered in the oven for 30 minutes.
**we tend to double this recipe and make two trays if we're going to a family gathering**
+ Tin Foil
Before you begin, make sure to preheat your oven to 400. Most of the time we skip this step because we are brining the shells to someone's house and we bake them there. PS - these baking dishes are the best for transport! They come with a lid and we've used them so many times since I decided to buy them.
Boil water in a medium pot - add jumbo shells and cook for roughly 9 minutes. I like to add salt to the water to avoid sticky shells, but that's personal preference.
Drain and place the noodles on a cookie sheet to cool; set aside.
Make the cheese: Combine the Ricotta, Mascarpone, HALF the Parmigiano, HALF the Mozzarella
Chop the Parsley... we love our Ninja chopper! It's an inexpensive kitchen tool that is worth every penny. Nathan uses it all the time... plus it's easy for me to use and help Nathan when he needs to be chop ingredients for him (haha)
Add the Parsley and Salt + Pepper to taste. Make sure to leave yourself some parsley so that you can garnish the shells.
Grease a 9x13 baking dish and line the bottom of the dish with HALF the sauce.
Grab the cookie sheet with the shells on it and begin stuffing those shells! This part can be messy, but that's part of the fun... As you stuff each shell, place it in the baking dish. Arrange the shells face up (opening up).
Once you have filled the baking dish with your stuffed shells, cover the shells with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella and Parmigiano on top. This is where we add a garnish of parsley (optional).
Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake (covered) in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
TIP: Since Nathan always makes his own, homemade, gravy, we typically have a lot of the gravy left over. When we serve the shells, we put the remaining gravy in a serving bowl so that people can use extra sauce on the shells if they want to. It's a nice gesture and people always use the extra sauce. If you use jarred sauce, it may be worth it to buy more than one jar. Heat up the second jar when the shells are baking and serve it once the shells are done baking.
And that's it! t's a fairly easy dish to make... although I say that lightly as I've tried to make it without Nathan's supervision and messed up the cheese (whoops). I hope you find time to try it and it ends in full stomachs and full hearts!
Talk soon friends,