Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stuffed Shells

I decided to combine/modify two different stuffed shells recipes for this dish. One recipe comes from my good friend and next door neighbor, Cheryl, who posted a recipe for Spinach & Sausage Stuffed Shells on her cooking blog Two Friends With Spice. The second recipe is from Allison, a former first grade student (now third grade student), who emailed me her mom's stuffed shells recipe because she said it it her most favorite thing her mom made. I thought both recipes sounded good so I went back and forth between them, using some ingredients from both recipes and following both recipe's directions. I guess that it goes to show my cooking confidence has greatly improved because I didn't follow either recipe to a "T", unlike my former cooking self would have. I am proud of the fact that I am now courageous enough to take liberties when I cook and still have things turn out!

How then, to combine both recipes for you, is the conundrum. It just goes to show that you, too, will have to cook using your own judgement and personal assessments.

Stuffed Shells
Modified from Cheryl and Allison/Jody

1 12 oz package jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 lb Italian Sausage (I used Apple & Chicken Sausage)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
6 ounces of low fat cottage cheese
7 ounces of ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 (14 1/2 ounces) can of Italian styled stewed tomatoes, cut up & drained
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook jumbo shells according to package. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

While shells are boiling, preheat the oven to 375. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it into small pieces (I chopped the sausage into bite sized pieces beforehand). Cook until no pink remains in sausage. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. 

In a large bowl combine egg, cottage cheese, ricotta, half of the parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of parsley, oregano, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, sausage, and garlic mixture until evenly mixed. 

Spread a thin layer of the chopped tomatoes in the baking dish. Stuff each shell with some of the sausage and cheese mixture. Arrange in the baking dish, open side up. Spread the remaining tomatoes over the top of the pasta shells. 

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Remove the foil and grate the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake, uncovered for 10 more minutes. 
Note: the top picture of the stuffed shells really doesn't do it justice. I am crossing my fingers that we will get a new camera in the near future so my food doesn't look so blah!

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