This is one of those recipes that was created out of sheer "I have no clue what to make for dinner" moments. Basically it came about by just looking through the freezer, refrigerator and pantry; then waiting for something to speak to me.
In the freezer I found a pound package of shrimp nearing its expiration date; ok, so need to use those up now. In the refrigerator I found several open containers and packages of cheeses that had been used for other recipes, but not entirely used up; the same for some heavy whipping cream and half n' half. Pantry! That's where the picture started to form in my mind of what ingredients I now could use and how to put it all together. I found a can of sliced mushrooms, tomato sauce and diced tomato; ok, so we're going Italian with this one. But wait, instead of pasta, why not use some of those Amish egg noodles my mother had sent me recently?
With ingredients laid out on the counter, shrimp defrosting in the microwave and water for the noodles waiting to boil; the game plan came into being. While I could have just pieced it all together eventually in a skillet on the stovetop; no, I wanted a casserole that would go in the realm of classic. My son was going to be home from work in about an hour and he was going to be my main guinea pig. He also works as a cook, so knew he would be a strong critic and not hold back; hey, who do you think thought him to cook in the first place!?!
In my to be posted recipe, I call for ricotta cheese blended smooth; this can be achieved with a blender or hand mixer. If, for whatever reason, you cannot find or use ricotta cheese, small curd cottage cheese will work just as well, but it too must be blended smooth. This recipe also contains five different cheeses, so consider it decadent and the lactose intolerant are hereby forewarned.
Pantry Shrimp Casserole
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
½ cup tomato sauce
1 lb medium sized shrimp, shelled and deveined
8 oz. egg noodles, cooked and kept warm
2 cups half n’ half
½ cup heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup ricotta cheese, blended smooth
½ cup each grated parmesan, shredded provolone, grated pecorino romano cheeses
½ tsp each ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup each shredded mozzarella and shredded pecorino romano cheeses
Preheat oven to 375F; smear butter on the bottom and sides of a 2 quart casserole dish. Place in a large mixing bowl the mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato sauce, shrimp and cooked egg noodles.
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the half n’ half, whipping cream and butter to a simmer; whisk in the ricotta cheese. Gradually add in the parmesan, provolone and grated romano cheeses; also the black pepper and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low and stir until all cheeses are melted; quickly add to the ingredients in the large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Spread out mixture into the casserole dish and top evenly with the shredded mozzarella and romano cheeses. Bake for 20-25 minutes; until cheeses are melted and beginning to brown around the edge of the dish.
Makes 6 servings.