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Stuffed Shells

Cheese and pasta...such a delightful combination!  This recipe was a staple in Kyle's home growing up and I make it here from time to time as well.  It is basically lasagna, just in shell form versus in layers.  It can easily be made vegetarian or with any ground meat option, such as our ground chicken, turkey, tomato-basil turkey sausage, pork, or beef.   I like to serve it with a salad and/or a green vegetable (zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, or green beans) plus some toasted garlic bread.  Note: this recipe makes 2 9x13 pans, so either put one in the freezer for later, take one to a friend, invite friends over, or halve the recipe unless you have a large group to feed.

Ingredients
1 12-oz box of jumbo shells (should be ~40 shells)
16 oz cottage cheese
16 oz ricotta cheese
16 oz mozzarella cheese
3/4 c freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 jars of pasta sauce
If using: 1 1/2 to 2 lbs or ground meat of your choice, browned and ready to go
Optional: fresh basil and extra Parmesan cheese as a garnish

Directions

  1. Cook the shells accordingly to the package directions for half of the recommended time.  Drain and cool in a single later on a baking sheet or waxed paper.
  2. Combine the cheeses, eggs, herbs, and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  3. If using a ground meat option, combine the cooked meat and jars of sauce in a large bowl, then spread half of the sauce on the bottom of 2 9"x13" baking dishes.  Note: The other half of the sauce will be used to top the shells, once filled and arranged in the pan.
  4. Using a spoon, piping bag, or a ziplock-style bag with one corner cut off, fill each shell with ~2 TBSP of the cheese-egg-herb mixture.  (Note: this can be a tad messy until you get the hang of it).
  5. Arrange each filled shell into the baking dishes (each dish will hold ~20 of the shells).
  6. Top with the remaining sauce and bake in a 350F oven for around 30-35 minutes.
  7. Top with fresh basil and extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

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