30 September 2021

Stuffed Shells - Conchiglie Ripiene al Forno

Stuffed Shells - Conchiglie Ripiene al Forno / www.delightfulrepast.com

It had been several years since I last made stuffed shells, so I wanted to do a little research as to quantities. As my regular readers know, I hate food waste. I wanted to make 20 stuffed jumbo shells, and so I wanted to make exactly the amount of sauce and filling for those 20 shells. My research proved disappointing.

Most recipes I saw, including ones from companies that make jumbo shells, made far more filling than needed for the number of shells indicated. I remember one that made an enormous quantity of filling and then said to fill each shell with a level tablespoon! Well, I knew what I wanted to put in the filling, so I did my own math and got it right the first time.

Stuffed Shells - Conchiglie Ripiene al Forno - perfect for make-ahead freezer meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

I scaled down my basic marinara sauce to make exactly 3 1/2 cups so that there would be no leftover sauce either. Funny thing, too, was that the math on the Barilla box was wrong, too! The nutrition label on the 12-ounce box said "about 7 servings per container, serving size 5 pieces." On my planet, that adds up to 35 shells; there are actually 45 shells in a box.

Anyway ... This is my usual cheese-stuffed jumbo shells, which I really love. But next time I'm going to experiment with a sausage filling. What sort of fillings have you tried?

Stuffed Shells - Conchiglie Ripiene al Forno / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Stuffed Shells

(Makes 20 stuffed jumbo shells)

The Shells

1/2 12-ounce box Barilla jumbo shells (about 44 in a box)

The Sauce

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (1.5 ounces/43 grams) finely minced onion
1/3 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) finely minced green bell pepper
1/3 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) finely minced peeled carrot
1 14.5-ounce can organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) drinkable dry red wine
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

The Cheese Filling

1 15-ounce container ricotta
1 firmly packed cup (4 ounces/113 grams) finely shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup (2 ounces/ grams) grated parmesan
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/44 ml) milk

The Top

1/2 firmly packed cup (2 ounces/57 grams) finely shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) grated parmesan

1 Put the salted water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 quarts water, on to boil for cooking the shells according to package directions.

2 In 2-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, bell pepper, and carrot until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat to very low and simmer, loosely covered, for 45 minutes.

3 When shells are done, drain and place them on a quarter sheet pan to cool. When sauce is done, remove from heat and let cool.

4 In 1-quart glass measure, stir together the cheese filling ingredients; cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4.

5 To assemble: very lightly oil a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Using a #40 scoop (2 tablespoons, slightly rounded), fill shells, handling them carefully. Place in baking dish, open side up. Pour remaining sauce evenly over shells. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and top with a sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Note: I like to use these Pyrex 3-cup rectangular storage dishes (shown in second photo) for my make-ahead freezer meals for two.

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Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

There are people roaming the earth who are the free radicals of cuisine. I r one. Restaurants know me, and automatically deliver double the sauces, dressings, et al to my table. My fridge is well-stocked with extra sauces to supplement inadequate carryouts. My undiscriminating tastes would drown the delicate accents your tastes celebrate. Somewhere in my prior incarnations, there are probably porcine ancestors. If sauces aren’t the spice of life, the spice of life is sauces, say I.

Angie's Recipes said...

Looks so good with cheese filling and that lovely sauce which would be fantastic for some spaghetti too.

TONY said...

Fantastic, Jean. I love Italian pasta meals. I have just looked up how many types of Italian pasta there are. Would you believe it, approximately 350.
Cannelloni......They go on and on.Its like saying poetry. Those Italians put passion into everything they do, if you know what I mean!!!
Have you noticed that pasta is all the same ingredient but its the different shapes and their textures that provide many different sensory experiences? Its as though they all have a different tatse although they don.t Great one once again, Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, I recommend that you use the 29-ounce, rather than the 14.5-ounce, can of Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes to make enough to suit your super-saucy self! 😁😋 Because it's important to have enough sauce—it's the best part!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Angie, thank you. And I've got some nice whole wheat spaghetti on hand!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Tony! Yes, it always amazes me how different the shapes taste. I know when I make handmade pasta, it tastes different when I roll it thinner. But I've never made tubes or ribs in my noodles. The ribs hold the sauce and give a different effect.

Jamie said...

Great looking recipe! Question re: sauce ingredients - recipe says "1/ teaspoon salt" - does that mean 1 tsp? Or maybe meant ½ tsp? Thanks!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Love all varieties of baked/stuffed pasta. I'm OK with uneven quantities -- I can always figure out how to use leftovers. Anyway, what a terrific dish -- lovely fall fare. Thanks!

Pauline Wiles said...

Ooh, I would love these with cheese, or sausage, or any number of fillings. Jean, you've inspired me to shut down my computer and head for the kitchen. It won't quite be this recipe, but it will be from the right country :)

Gerlinde de Broekert said...

I love stuffed shells with plenty of sauce . My latest stuffing for them is with Swiss chard, Boursin cheese, and artichoke hearts. Your recipe looks great and I need to try it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jamie, thank you so much! I can't believe I didn't catch that! I can't get to my recipe development notes just now, so it could be more, but I'm going to err on the side of caution and say 1/4 teaspoon for the time being. Someone can always add more, but they can't do anything about too much! Thanks again!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

John, thank you. I'm going to be enjoying this a lot more often when fall sets in in earnest! Baking Weather!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Pauline! It's hard to go wrong with pasta and a sauce!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Gerlinde. That sounds wonderful. I love the idea of using Swiss chard in the filling, it would be so much more textural than the usual spinach. Hope I remember to plant some next year. It's been a long time since I grew it myself.

Dee | GrammysGrid.com said...

YUM! Thanks so much for linking up at the Unlimited Link Party 35. Pinned!

Chef Mimi said...

Gorgeous. I’ve gotten lazy about stuffings and fillings, but this is motivating me to stuff some shells!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Dee! Much appreciated!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks! Mimi, I know exactly what you mean! But once I did it, I thought, that wasn't so bad!

Lowcarb team member said...

They look so good ...

Happy October Wishes.

All the best Jan

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jan! And Happy October to you as well!

Richard Sheppard said...

These really look great! It's been years since I made shells. I like your idea of using Italian sausage too and there's some left over that I didn't use on pizza last night. Hummmm....

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, thank you. It's funny, I think it took me so long to make them again because I was thinking they were so much trouble. But they're really not! Especially when the components are done in this particular order; the sauce and filling can even be made a day ahead. Let me know how they turn out! (Glad you're staying with the Friday night pizza tradition!)

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Your sauce looks delicous, Jean. It's very similar to one of your sauces I always use. I'm all about the sauce and sausage would make me happy. Love how exact you are with your recipes!

Cocoa and Lavender said...

They look fabulous, Jean! My family recipe is for cheese stuffing and they are cooked seam side down!ci like your way of seam side up!

Jeanie said...

I'm with Sully on the sauce -- and you can always freeze or hold it for a day or so for something else. I've made a lot of pasta dishes in my time, but never the shells. They sound really goood!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Martha! I like being exact in the recipes, even if I "wing it" with them or make variations. I just don't think it's helpful when a recipe writer describes quantities as "to taste" or as "a handful" or "a knob (of butter)!"

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, David. I've never even thought to place them seam side down! They'd taste the same, but I rather like the open tops. It always makes me happy to hear of the different ways people make the same thing.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jeanie! I think it would be a fun dish for an unseated buffet party where people are eating off their laps; no knife needed, just a fork.

Julie's Creative Lifestyle said...

Stuffed shells are one of my favorite Italian dishes. Thanks for sharing the recipe on how to make it Jean. Thanks for the blog visit and have a nice week.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Julie, thank you so much. Happy October!

Phil in the Kitchen said...

Just the perfect cheering meal for this time of year. I'd never say no to a cheese filling. I totally agree that recipes for fillings (and often marinades for some reason) are very prone to excessive amounts. I know that it's difficult to scale some recipes down - I don't like the idea of using half an egg, for instance - but I very rarely cook for large crowds and I also really hate waste. Lately, I find that I turn to the flavour of fennel more and more in fillings. For some reason, the older I get, the more I love fennel.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Phil! And you're so right about fennel. I like it more and more all the time, too! And a little finely minced fennel wouldn't go amiss in this filling, or a little toasted and chopped or ground fennel seed in the sauce!

Richard Sheppard said...

Made the shells last night...yummy! Thankfully, I already had some pizza sauce that I'd froze the week before to make things a bit easier. I also added some cooked Italian sausage in about 1/3 of the shells, and it was very good. Next time I'd probably fill half the shells with sausage and cheese and the rest with just the cheese mixture. Added some asparagus and crusty bread for a real special meal.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Richard! Asparagus and crusty bread (and a glass of red wine!) are all you need to round out the meal. I don't know what kind of pizza you like, but if you have any extra pepperoni laying around, some finely chopped pepperoni could be thrown into the cheese mixture when you don't happen to have any Italian sausage!

Miz Helen said...

We are going to love your Stuffed Shells, they look delicious! Thanks for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday, 556!
Miz Helen

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Miz Helen, thanks so much!

ellen b. said...

It's been years since I've made stuffed shells. These look great!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Ellen! I hope you'll make them soon. You'll likely discover, as I did, that they aren't as much trouble as remembered! :D

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Jean, I LOVE pasta dishes but have never made the stuffed shells. Your sauce sounds scrumptious! I wish my hubby loved pasta as much as I do. He prefers potatoes. Sometimes I think I could live the rest of my life without them but I make them to keep him happy. I have never seen pasta shells that large in any of our grocery stores here. But I will have to take another look. The whole recipe appeals to me in a big way. Enjoy your weekend. It's Thanksgiving weekend here which means potatoes! :-)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Sandi. I love potatoes, too, especially mashed potatoes, but every once in a while, a nice pasta dish is just what I want! If you have a grocery store that sells Barilla pasta, request that they order the jumbo shells number 333. I hope you enjoy your weekend, too, and the potatoes! :-)

Tarahlynn said...

Love it! I'll be featuring you this week when the next To Grandma's house we go party starts - thanks for sharing with us!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Tarahlynn, thanks so much! (Note to all readers: If you're into home improvement projects—and who isn't!—you should check out Tarah's blog; she's got tools and knows how to use them!)