Meatless Monday: Stuffed Shells with Fresh Herbs

This was one of those meals that did not go according to plan and turned out better for it. The concept was simple enough, to create really flavorful stuffed shells.  Maddie and Brendan were coming over for dinner last night and I wanted to come up with a recipe that we could all assemble together.  Well, despite forgetting the eggs at the store, realizing that we had nothing to cover the baking dish with the moment it was supposed to go into the oven and making twice the amount of pasta that we needed, it turned out to be a delicious dinner.

My problem with most stuffed shell recipes is that they are almost flavorless, mostly consisting of ricotta, and very little spice.  In this recipe, I added ample amounts of my favorite herbs, and two flavorful cheeses to the traditional mixture to great success.

You could use your favorite pasta sauce, whether a homemade tomato or pesto, but I personally chose my favorite red pepper sauce from Pasta Shop in Rockridge.  I would recommend a light sauce like a tomato or red pepper to balance the rich shell filling.

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Stuffed Shells with Fresh Herbs
Filling

  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • ½ cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 ½ cup Ricotta
  • ½ cup finely grated Gruyere
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan
  • ½ tsp salt

Shells

  • 16 oz pasta shells

Preferred Pasta Sauce, preferably tomato or red pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees and bring a salted pot of water to a boil.  Combine the chopped herbs, garlic, and cheese in a large bowl and set aside.  Add shells to boiling water and cook until just al dente.  Run cold water over the shells in a colander before stuffing.  Spread a third of your sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish. Fill each shell with a small spoonful of the cheese and herb mixture. Place the filled shells in the baking dish and ladle remaining sauce on top, the shells should just be covered.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes on 300 then raise the temperature to 350 and cook for an additional 20 minutes, checking periodically. Shells are done when they are lightly golden brown on the edges and the sauce surrounding is bubbling.

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From Maddie giving me ideas for creating the best flavor combination, not to mention cooking with me in the kitchen the whole time, to Brendan and Shay stuffing the shells, this was entirely a team creation.

Despite forgetting the eggs and not having something to cover the shells with in the oven, they turned out fabulous. Because I made too much pasta and had extra sauce, Shay and I are enjoying some pasta with red pepper sauce for dinner tonight.  Here’s hoping all future culinary miscues produce such delicious results.  Until next week, Happy Meatless Monday!

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