Last week I was going to make lasagna. I got out the 6 qt crock pot, placed in the ingredients to make homemade pasta sauce; but also browned a pound of lean ground beef with diced onions and minced garlic to make a meat sauce. After 6 hours of cooking, the sauce was ready to be used, but now I wasn't in the mood to make lasagna. So what do I do now after all that work, do I freeze it all to have ready for next time, or...? Until I remembered that I had purchased large shells to make stuffed shells sometime; guess this was that sometime.
The filling for stuffed shells is basically the one I would use for lasagna, but I use my immersion blender to make the cheese smoother. I also had no small curd cottage cheese on hand, so used ricotta, mozzarella and romano exclusively. If you don't have an immersion blender, a handheld mixer will do the trick of smoothing out the cheeses for easier filling.
20 large shells
3 lbs ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup mixture of minced fresh herbs (oregano, parsley, basil and thyme)
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp ground black pepper
6 cups homemade meat sauce
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on high heat; cook shells for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Strain shells out and place in large bowl of cold water to stop cooking process and keep shells from sticking together.
While waiting for water to boil and shells to cook, prepare the filling by place all remaining ingredients, except one cup of shredded mozzarella and the meat sauce into a large bowl. Use an immersion blender or hand mixer to smooth out the cheeses.
Preheat oven to 350F; spray a 4 qt baking dish with nonstick baking spray; spread 3 cups of sauce over bottom of dish. Use a teaspoon or piping bag to fill each shell, so there is just enough room for the edges of the shells to just touch. Place each shell, open side up, into the baking dish; when all shells are filled, spoon remaining 3 cups of sauce over them. Evenly spread the remaining mozzarella cheese over the shells; cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 30 minutes and let rest for 5 minutes before serving; serve 2 stuffed shells per person.
Makes 10 servings.
June 10, 1982