Creamy ricotta cheese in an edible boat… essentially, that is what stuffed shells are. A delicate, yet flavorful, smooth ricotta mixture is stuffed inside a pasta shell, drizzled lightly with homemade tomato sauce, and heated to bubbly perfection.
It is Italian comfort food at it’s finest. Simple, sophisticated, and as always, delicious. I shared this meal over at a friend’s house, for our own “petite dinner party” (since in case you don’t know I adore acting elegant and fancy and throwing spur of the moment dinner parties). Anyway, everyone there devoured it in split seconds. Make this for yourself, and I’m sure you’ll do the same. 🙂
- 12 ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (approximately 36 shells)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing baking sheet
- 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, diced
- 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 cups marinara sauce
- 2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Lightly oil a 12 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and set aside. Lightly oil the baking sheet and set aside.
Partially cook the pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly tender but still quite firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. You will continue cooking the shells in the oven after they have been stuffed. Using a slotted spoon, drain pasta shells and place on oiled baking sheet, spreading them out so that they don’t stick together and allow to cool.
Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add themarinara sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring often.
In a medium bowl, stir the ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolks, basil, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spoon 1 1/4 cups of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 2 tablespoons per shell. Arrange the shells in the prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with the mozzarella.
Bake in the lower third of your oven until the filling is heated through and the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.