This is just one of my oldest son’s most favorite meals to eat. And it’s simple since you can throw it together early in the day, or even the day before, and then pop it in the oven to bake for a bit when you need a quick dinner on the table.
I’m not going to go nuts about giving precise measurements for this dish because I don’t really have any. I can give hints of how much of this and that I’ve used, but in all honesty, it’s really just something you can throw together without worrying about being exact with the amounts. Most of how I cook is really me throwing this and that in together and seeing how it comes out. If there were one area of my blog I could say I struggle with its coming up with precise measurements for recipes. While sometimes I’m able to provide that easily, I can’t say it always works out that way. Sometimes I just need to make something a second or third time before I publish it so that I can really focus on exactly how much of an ingredient I’m using.
With that being said, use this as a general guideline of ingredients and measuring and don’t make yourself crazy about how much of each you use. It’s food, folks. We are meant to enjoy it, not stress over it.
BAKED STUFFED SHELLS:
1 – Box Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 - 24 oz. Container Ricotta Cheese
1 – 16 oz. Block mozzarella Cheese, freshly grated
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Freshly Made or Store Bought Tomato/Pasta Sauce (roughly 4 – 5 cups)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
If you are making your own homemade tomato sauce, good for you. There is nothing else in the world like it. But, if you aren’t, use whatever brand you prefer.
In a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, spoon some sauce across the bottom.
Cook your pasta shells for half the amount of time listed on the box. You don’t want them aldente for this dish. You only want to partially cook these since they will continue to cook while you bake the dish in the oven. Make sure to salt the water well before cooking the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl, add the ricotta, 3/4 of the shredded mozzarella, chopped parsley, grate parmesan and salt and pepper. Stir together well and then spoon into a large Ziploc bag. You may want to only spoon in half the mixture to work with and then refill it with the rest when you’re done. It makes the bag easier to manage while you are filling the shells.
Once the pasta is done, strain it and rinse with cold water. Once cool to the touch, begin filling each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture. You don’t want to over fill the shell’s, but put just enough in each shell so that you can easily fold the shell so that each open end meets.
As you fill and fold each shell, place them seam side down in the baking dish. Continue repeating until you have filled the dish.
Spoon on some tomato sauce, followed by a sprinkling of the shredded mozzarella.
At this point you can either place them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them, or throw them into the oven and bake them right away.
Place them, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven and bake until heated through and bubbly and the cheese has completely melted.
Enjoy with a salad and some garlic bread!
Note: I ended up with about 38 cooked and stuff shells. I was able to fit 27 of them on the first layer of the baking dish. I covered those with sauce and mozzarella and then added the remaining stuffed shells to the top of them, spaced out as evenly as possible, and topping those with sauce and shredded mozzarella as well. You can do it this way with the extra shells that don’t fit into a single layer in the baking dish, or you can just make a smaller batch in a smaller baking dish. Your choice. Either way, nothing goes to waste.