Archive for August 10, 2015

Stuffed Jumbo Shells

Inside a Stuffed Jumbo Shell - TheSurprisedGourmetIt’s always fun to make a pasta recipe, even if it does take a little extra time.

There’s nothing like Stuffed Jumbo Shells to hit the spot when you’re craving a gooey goodness.

Jumbo Shell Mixture
This is how the sauce mixture should look as it cooks.

This recipe takes a little time, but has so many possibilities. If there are leftovers you can make so many other recipes from that. A good thing about being the cook to me is that you get to taste your mixture as you go along.

As you prepare the cottage cheese mixture, finely chop the spinach. I never use baby spinach anymore. I found that the regular spinach contains small leaves and the cost is much more reasonable.

The cottage cheese mixture comes together with the chopped spinach

This Stuffed Jumbo Shells dish is most delicious right out of the oven, but it is one you can prepare ahead of time, refrigerate and warm up when guests arrive. It also makes a lovely dish to share with someone having a house-warming party, birthday or get an old-fashion get-together.

While this meal is cooking you can sit back and relax with your favorite wine or beer. Some might suggest certain wines or beer to go with this dish, I say just enjoy your favorite beverage whatever it might be. Check out the directions below and try your hand at this tasty entrée.

**You can adjust the amounts of seasoning in this recipe to your taste. I’m of Italian descent and tend to go toward a stronger flavor in my dishes.

Thanks for stopping by today and viewing this recipe. I hope you give it a try. If you do, let me know what you think.

Cucina felice!

Stuffed Jumbo Shells
Jumbo Shells ready for the oven
  • 12 ounce package Jumbo Shells
  • SAUCE:
  • ½ Onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 3 Tablespoons Canola oil
  • 2 Medium ribs of celery, leaves included (cut length-wise, then dice into ¼ inch pieces
  • 3 Heaping Tablespoons minced garlic (or 6 whole cloves of garlic, finely minced)
  • 3 Tablespoons dried Italian Seasoning
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 (14 ½ ounce) Cans diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground salt (Sea or Kosher)
  • 2 Cups water
  • 2 Cups cottage cheese
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 Cups Italian Cheese Blend (Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina and Asiago)
  • 2 Cups packed fresh spinach, then finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground salt (Sea or Kosher)
  • 1 Large egg, beaten
  1. Put Canola oil in 6 quart sauce pan on medium heat. Add onions and celery to oil and sauté for 3 minutes. Turn down the heat just a little so the garlic won’t burn and then add garlic of your choice. I use Spice World Minced Garlic, but you can use 6 whole cloves of garlic finely minced. Continue to cook for another minute.
  2. Add the Italian Seasoning and let cook until the seasonings releases some of its flavors. Next add the tomato paste and tomato sauce. Give it a good stir combining all the ingredients well and cook another one minute stirring occasionally. Add two (14 ½ ounce) cans of diced tomatoes. Stir well, add ground salt, black pepper and water. You can add more salt and pepper as needed for your taste.
  3. Turn down the heat, cover and simmer on low for approximately an hour, stirring occasionally to keep the mixture from sticking.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, prepare the stuffing mixture.
  5. Meanwhile, heat about 4 quarts of water in another 6 quart pan for the shells. Read the directions on your pasta package to regulate the right amount of water for the amount of pasta you’re using. You may need more or less water boiling depending on the amount you’re preparing.
  6. Use an immersion blender and puree the cottage cheese. Add oregano and stir. Next add the cheese blend and mix well. Finely chop the spinach and add to the cottage cheese mixture. Add salt and mix well. It’s not necessary to use baby spinach as the regular pack of spinach works just as well at a better price. Finish the stuffing by adding the egg, well beaten, to help bind the ingredients. Cover and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. When ready to prepare the shells, pour a portion of the sauce mixture into a large casserole dish. Drain the shells and fill with the cottage cheese mixture and place in the casserole dish on the sauce mixture. Use about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of mixture or fill to your desired thickness. Fill shells carefully as they will tear apart, but not to worry you can easily repair them. After the shells are laid out in the casserole dish, ladle sauce over the top of them.
  8. If you have shells (broken or otherwise) left over, don’t worry. You can use them in another pasta dish or you can chop them up and put them in any leftover sauce you might have from this recipe.
  9. After the shells are covered in sauce, place aluminum foil over the casserole pan. Place the dish in a pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes. Take from oven, remove foil, top with shredded cheese (any flavor of your choice such as sharp cheddar or fresh grated Parmesan) and place back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese topping. The cheese will actually begin to melt and you don't necessarily have to put it back in the oven if you desire not to.
  10. Garnish with sprigs or finely minced fresh basil for a splash of color and enjoy.

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