One of my favorite memories growing up was Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house on Commodore Street. Everyone showed up to be together and to respect the matriarch of the family Grazia DiPasquale Santoro who always sat at the head of the table. She secretly would sneak bits of food to the begging dog under the table. We all knew it, but pretended not to. Soup was always the first dish, homemade with little meatballs. It was the second dish everyone lived for: PASTA.
I thought about these wonderful stuffed shells and ate them often and eventually made them my whole life. Today I’m sharing the recipe with you after what seems a lifetime.
This is a wonderful hearty recipe for a “bone-sticking” dish” during these cold days of winter and even for those who aren’t so cold as we are in the North. It’s quick,easy and delicious. I add spinach to my dish. If you want to make it simply with ricotta and mozzarella, that’s fine too. I use a large lasagna-sized pan and preheat the oven to 350o.
You will need:
- 1 box Barilla large shells for stuffing
- 1 -32 ounce container of whole milk ricotta
- 1- 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed,drained and squeezed dry
- 2 eggs
- 2 packets sugar
- 2 bottles of Bertoli ORGANIC olive oil, basil and garlic tomato sauce or your own tomato sauce @ 48 oz or my brother Joe’s marinara sauce in my previous blog on meatballs and sauce.
- 1 package shredded mozzarella
- grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh basil or Italian chopped parsley to garnish
1) Boil the shells until they are tender but not breaking apart. Bite one to taste. Make sure they are not too hard. Add some olive oil to the boiling water so they don’t stick.
2) Drain the shells and rinse with cold water to cool them off before stuffing
3) In a large mixing bowl place the ricotta and make a big hole in the middle.
4) Put 2 eggs in the hole along with 2 sugar packets
5) Add the chopped spinach making sure first it is dried
6) Stir to have a good consistency.
7) Blend in at least a cup of the shredded mozzarella and ½ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir again.
8) Coat the bottom of the lasagne pan with sauce and scoop enough ricotta and spinach mixture into each shell so they are well filled.
9) Put more shredded mozzarella on top of each shell and sprinkle more Parmesan on them before baking.
10) Bake at 350o for about ½ hour or until they look gooey. Remove from the oven and sprinkle fresh chopped parsley or basil. Cover them with more sauce if you like before serving. Serve HOT!!!
At the end of dinner (which also included a meat dish and vegetables) all the grandchildren would gather with Grandma in the living room to have our special time with her while the grown-ups either played cards or cleaned up the kitchen.
What wonderful childhood memories I had and most of them started and ended at the table.
BUON APPETITO! BUON WEEKEND!!