Baked Stuffed Shells

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Baked Stuffed Shells


. Difficulty: Easy . Serves: 6 people . Preparation time: 1 hour and 10 minutes . Variety: Pasta


I have not encountered stuffed shells in Italy much, stuffed paccheri or rigatoni are much more common in Italy. But I must say that I sold a lot of stuffed shells through my restaurant days since 1971. It is a common dish that is present on many Italian American restaurant menus and households. An easy dish to make and just about everybody loves it. And very convenient as well, because after you prepped it, the oven does the job and one can feed a large quantity of guests.


For the sauce:
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino
For the shells:
1 pound large shells
1 pound drained fresh ricotta
8 ounces frozen peas, thawed
1 pound low-moisture mozzarella, 12 ounces cut in 1/4-inch cubes, 4 ounces shredded
2 cups grated Grana Padano
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parley
1 large egg, beaten


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. For the sauce, In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, sauté until edges are golden, about 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Slosh out the tomato cans with 1 cup hot water and add that to the pot. Stir in the salt, oregano and peperoncino and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook uncovered until thickened, about 20 minutes.
While the sauce cooks, add the shells to the boiling pasta water and cook until very al dente. Drain and separate onto sheet trays to avoid sticking.
For the filling, in a bowl, stir together the ricotta, peas, cubed mozzarellla, 1 cup grated Grana Padano, the parsley and egg. Mix the remaining shredded mozzarella and grated Grana Padano in a bowl and set aside.
In a 15-by-10-inch Pyrex or other large baking dish, spread 2 cups of the sauce. Divide the filling evenly among the shells and arrange in one layer in the baking dish. Top evenly with 2 cups more sauce. Sprinkle with the reserved grated cheese mixture. Dollop remaining sauce evenly over top. Tent with foil, bake until bubbly all over, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese is golden and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Lidia Bastianich