There are those meals you remember from your childhood. The ones that instantly transport you back to being a kid and sitting at the kitchen table (or kitchen island in my case), legs swinging because they are too short to touch the floor, and belly full of deliciousness. For me one of those meals is stuffed shells.
I could not even tell you the last time I ate stuffed shells or it even occurred to me that it would be a great meal for dinner. My mom, sister, and I had gotten tired of eating out. I know a ridiculous thing to say with the food being so great in SF, but by the time Friday afternoon rolled around the thought of stuffing ourselves silly with another gourmet dinner did not bring a smile to anyone’s face. So we decided to cook dinner at home.
My mom raided my cookbook collection but we were all uninspired with the options, that is until, she came up with the idea of using Rao’s manicotti recipe to make stuffed shells. Smiles instantly came across my sister and my face and we were sold.
I thought home-made stuffed shells would be daunting but I have to say it was super easy. Ok we cheated a little (maybe a lot) with store-bought pasta and sauce (Rao’s of course) but still it was easy.
First cook the pasta shells until they are almost done. You do not want to fully cook them because they will cook in the oven. Drain and allow to cool.
For the filling combine 2 cups of ricotta cheese, 2 egg yolks, 1 cup of diced mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of grated Pecorino Romano, salt and pepper. Then my mom’s secret trick – place the cheese mixture into a plastic bag and cut off the end.
Carefully pull open the shell in the palm of one hand and with the other guide the filling into the shell. You want the shells to fill full but not overly stuffed.
Place a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and then carefully place the stuffed shells on top. The layer of sauce on the bottom does an AMAZING job of preventing the shells from sticky to the bottom of the dish.
Next cover the shells with sauce, careful not to use too much or else you will end up with soup, and then top with mozzarella cheese.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 then enjoy!
We had a delicious salad with ours.
It was the perfect meal on a cold, foggy SF night and the best part about it? My mom made enough for the hubby and I to have leftovers when we came back from our weekend camping trip. Yes she is the best!