A simple, mild, and creamy homemade sauce smothering pasta shells stuffed with ground beef, ricotta, herbs, and more cheese, all baked together until problems seem to have gone away. This recipe is not complicated, but it might be a little fiddly--there's no arguing with the result, however. For me, filling the shells is a mental pleasure; that repetitive action you know gets you one step closer to a delicious meal... Melty hot cheese, mild tomato sauce, puffy pasta shells, and ultimate comfort.
If you happen to have leftover pesto languishing in your fridge, make sure to pull that out as a topping as well, it's delish.
Notes: Ground beef is organic, 93% lean.
PARMA ROSA STUFFED SHELLS
Ingredients: 16 ounces jumbo pasta shells, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 cup grape tomatoes, 1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, 3-4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. ground oregano, 1 tsp. ground basil, 1/3 cup red wine, 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and chili flakes for serving. For the filling: 1 pound ground beef (or pork), 12 ounces ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 beaten egg, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. ground oregano.
1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
2. Make the Parma Rosa sauce: heat the olive oil over medium heat with the minced garlic until fragrant. Add the grape tomatoes, can of whole tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and onion powder. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend to desired consistency. Stir in the wine and heavy cream—taste for seasoning. Turn heat to low, occasionally stirring for another 10-15 minutes to reduce and intensify.
3. Prepare the filling: In a skillet, cook the ground beef with salt and pepper until just done, drain and remove to a bowl. Mix in the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt, pepper, and oregano. Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta shells until pliable but still firm, about 7 minutes. Drain well, cover with cold water for 3 minutes, and drain again.
5. Stuff each shell with 1 tbsp. of the beef mixture, place it into the prepared baking dish. (You might end up with a few leftover shells for another use). Pour the Parma Rosa sauce over the shells, sprinkle over the shredded Italian blend cheese, followed by 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan.
6. Cover the dish with foil, making sure the foil is not touching the cheese—bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-7 minutes longer until cheese is golden and melty. Serve with fresh parsley and/or chili flakes if desired.