Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells were a new addition to my Freezer Cooking foray in October. I have never made stuffed shells before. I don't know why - some preconceived notion about difficulty to make and little taste.

The recipe was so simple to make! The only challenge was getting the filling into the silly, slippery shells. I channeled my inner Sandra Lee and spooned the filling into a Ziplock bag and piped it into the shells.
[Bonnie's tip: don't use a double-walled freezer Ziplock....the inner bag tries to squeeze out the outer one!]

In my quest to feed my family more vegetables, I pureed some roasted butternut squash and mixed it in with the ricotta. It added some great color and flavor to the dish! I would even add spinach, roasted red pepper or peas the next time.

As far as how well it worked as a Freezer Cooking dish, it held up well. I let the shells cool completely, then flash-froze them and packaged them up in small bags in groups of 5. As far as preparing them, I popped them straight from the freezer to the oven and they were perfection in 20 minutes! It seriously is the perfect go-to meal when you're having a busy day!

Simple Stuffed Shells
From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner

– Half box of pasta shells (about 20)
- 16 oz ricotta cheese
- 1/2 butternut squash, roasted and pureed
- 2 cloves of garlic, mashed through garlic press
- 1 tsp. salt
- A few shakes of black pepper
- 2T chopped fresh basil
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- About half a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce
- Handful shredded fresh parmesan cheese
- A few handfuls shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Dice the butternut squash and roast at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. Puree and set aside.
2. Boil shells as per package directions. Drain and make sure they don’t stick to each other.
3. Mix together the ricotta, pureed squash, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and egg.
4. Stuff your shells, maybe about a tablespoon per shell. Use up all the filling for about 20-24 shells.

To cook and eat right away:
Place shells in a 9×13 baking dish, drizzle with pasta sauce (I think I used about half of a jar or so), then sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes or so.

To freeze and enjoy later:
Allow shells to cool completely. Place them on a cookie sheet or baking sheet and freeze until solid. Package them up in small bags in groups of 4 or 5 (a VERY generous portion) and store in the freezer. When you're ready to eat them, take them from the freezer into a baking dish. Drizzle with marinara sauce and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in 375 degree oven until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes or so.

No comments: