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Monday, August 13, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Shells

My roommate (and manny) recently helped me out tremendously with my kids, so as a thank you I decided to make him dinner. I have never made stuffed shells, but on a whim at the grocery store I bought a box last month. They've been sitting in my cupboard staring at me this whole time. Finally tonight I decided to pull them down and try my hand at cramming cheese into jumbo shells. I admit, I usually avoid this type of meal (manicotti as well) because the prospect of oozing dripping cheese and slimy shells seems like a miserable time for me. But I persevered with my plan and started boiling those shells. I cooked the whole box even though the recipe only called for half. I did this for two reasons: 1) what if I broke a ton of shells trying to coordinate the cheesing, and 2) stuffed shells are DAMN good and we'd probably go back for seconds (and thirds). I barely looked at the recipe on the box for the filling before I decided I need to just have it and do my thing. Given my vegetable situation - not a whole lot because I forgot to get last weeks CSA share - I went for a straight cheese filling, with just a few add ins. The result was delicious and filling, and even my 5 year old claimed "This is my favorite meal you ever made. Ever." Success! I made a smaller dish to bring to my boyfriend's house...I'm pretty sure this might win me a back rub!

Cheese Stuffed Shells
(serves 6)

1 box jumbo shells, boiled and drained
1 jar pasta sauce (something excellent REALLY matters here)
8 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 C cottage cheese
2 C mozzarella cheese
1/2 C nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese)
1 C broccoli soup (this can be replaced with water, stock, etc.)
1/4 C fresh basil, minced
1/3 C red onion, chopped
2 T garlic, chopped
1 T butter
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook jumbo shells according to package and drain. While those are cooling, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Mix ricotta, cottage, half the mozzarella and nutritional yeast, basil, onions, garlic, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix pasta sauce and broccoli soup (or other liquid). Take half the sauce mixture and place in bottom of a glass baking dish. Fill shells with cheese mixture and place open side up in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce and then remaining mozzarella and nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese). Bake covered with tin foil for 30 minutes, remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving with salad and a thick chunk of bread to sop up the sauce.

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