Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fresh Basil and Sausage Stuffed Shells

I am so happy when I have a meal all planned out.  I feel organized which I love and everyone in the house is cheerful when they know what's for dinner. I have all the ingredients on hand and a recipe waiting to be tackled.  No flying by the seat and throwing something together in a 6pm panic. My goal this year is to have more dinners scheduled for nights during the week when everyone is home and we can all enjoy them.  My shells recipe is a modified lasagne and the fam gobbles them up. Oh by the way, this is a great recipe to double and throw in the freezer for a ready made meal a fews weeks from now.

Shells Stuffed with Ricotta, Sausage and Basil
makes 5-6 servings

  • 1/2 box (~6 oz) jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ pound Italian sausage or ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 (16 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup parmesan, grated
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced or shredded fresh mozzarella
Heat oven to 350º. Cook pasta shells aldente so that they are still firm to the touch when straining. Drain, separate, and let cool. Add sausage to a large skillet and cook until brown over medium heat.   Remove sausage to a plate with a paper towel liner so that the grease will absorb into the towel.
Add a tablespoon olive oil to same empty skillet. Add onion and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.  Next, add tomatoes, sauce and spices, including salt and pepper.  Let this simmer and reduce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While tomato sauce is cooking, add ricotta, parmesan, egg, lemon, a little salt and pepper, and basil together into mixing bowl with sausage.  Stuff the shells about ¾ full.
When tomato sauce is reduced down, spread a thin layer over the bottom of a 9X12 casserole dish . Arrange shells face up and then top with remaining tomato sauce. Top with fresh (or shredded) mozzarella.
Bake at 350º for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve hot and garnish with more basil.

Yummy!  Hope you enjoy your family dinner!

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