Extra Cheesy Stuffed Shells

I made this recipe the other night for dinner.  So easy and the kids LOVED it!  All I have to do is say pasta and cheese and the kids cheer!  I think this dish also has a very nice presentation.  I would definitely serve this to a large crowd for an informal dinner. For a week night meal, this warms the tummy!  You can add fresh spinach to the cheese mixture, but we prefer to serve a heaping spinach salad topped with balsamic dressing as an accompaniment to the pasta dish.While the pasta shells are baking, mix up the cheese mixture. Once the shells have cooled to the touch, you can spoon the cheese mixture into the shells.  Stuff them full!

You can make this dish up ahead of time.  Stuff the al dente shells and place in dish with sauce. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate.  I have had the shells sit in the fridge for about 8 hours.  I would imagine they would keep fine overnight.  Bring pasta to room temperature and continue with the baking instructions.

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Extra Cheesy Stuffed Shells

INGREDIENTSBox uncooked jumbo pasta shells
15 ounce container ricotta cheese
8 ounces (2 cups) grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 – 26 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup jared or fresh Alfredo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepperDIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta shells according to package directions for al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Let cool on cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, 1½ cups of the mozzarella, egg, salt, and pepper. Spread ¾ of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish.

Spoon the cheese mixture into the pasta shells and place in the baking dish. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over shells, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover, drizzle Alfredo sauce over shells, and bake for 5-10 minutes more.

Serves 8

Some of the shells fall apart when being boiled.  Not to worry, you will have enough complete shells to stuff.  I take the broken shells, cut them up and toss with butter and parmesan cheese.  The kids love to nibble on these as well.

Make it a Dinner Party!

This recipe is easy, delicious, and elegant enough to serve to dinner guests.  All you need to turn this into company worthy dinner fare is to simply add the following menu items.Antipasto Platter

Start the evening with an antipasto platter.  Pull out a cutting board and adorn it with assorted deli meats like salami, pancetta, and prosciutto; assorted cheeses, especially a nice chunk of parmesan and mozzarella; and a small bowl of assorted olives.  You can add crackers, but I prefer the look of breadsticks standing tall in a glass.  If you have time, some fresh cantaloupe slices are a great accompaniment to the cured meats. Easy-peasy and this sets the stage for a great dinner.

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photo from www.rachaelrayshow.com

Spinach SaladAs I said earlier, you can chiffonade some spinach and add it to the cheese mixture.  Since my family loves spinach salad, I make up a nice large salad to have alongside the stuffed shells. All you have to do is grab a package of baby spinach leaves, add some sliced mushrooms, a can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), cherry tomatoes (sliced in half), Italian seasoned croutons, a handful of pine nuts, toss with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette, and top with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.

Slice up a delicious baguette of French bread.

Dessert

Keeping with the Italian theme, grab some yummy gelato from the grocer’s freezer or top a scoop of caramel-swirl ice cream with a splash of amaretto.  What’s not to love about liquid almonds poured over creamy ice cream?

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photo from www.food.com

That is how easy it is to turn this family-friendly stuffed
cheesy shells into a meal fit for company.
Buon appetito!

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