One tub of delicious, creamy ricotta cheese = two delicious, memorable meals. I’ve been making my mother’s recipe for stuffed shells for years and for years I always have a half a tub of rotting ricotta in my fridge afterwards. But (trumpets sounding) Giada has (of course!) saved the day with her Lemon Ricotta Biscuits (muffins, my friends).
Chances are, if you’re my friend, and if I even just kind of like you, you’ve eaten these stuffed shells, cooked by either yours truly or yours truly’s mother. They’re simple but special enough to entertain with and really budget friendly. They’re one of my family’s favorite meals and just might become one of yours as well. Over the years I’ve played with the recipe here and there with a sprinkle of this and a sprinkle of that. I encourage you to season the stuffing to suit your taste. It’s really basic and takes well to amendments.
Beef & Cheese Stuffed Shells
20-24 jumbo shells pasta
2 jars of your favorite red sauce
3/4 lb. ground beef
1 small onion finely diced
7.5 oz. (1/2 container) of Ricotta cheese
1 generous handful of shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat over to 350. Spread one jar of red sauce on the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside to cool. Add ground beef and onion to large skillet over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Break meat up into very small pieces. When meat is cooked through, pour contents onto a paper towel lined bowl to drain. Once drained, place meat in a medium sized mixing bowl add the ricotta, mozzarella, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper and egg to the bowl and mix well.
Fill pasta shells with meat and cheese mixture to your liking and place in the prepared baking dish. Pour the second jar of red sauce over the shells. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese and place in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and top evenly with Parmesan cheese.
Now for the leftover ricotta:
2 cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ tsp almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together dry ingredients in bowl. With electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add lemon zest. In separate bowl mix ricotta, lemon juice, and egg. Add mixture to butter and sugar. Add dry ingredients in two batches. Fill muffin tin lined with papers or well greased. Top with sliced almonds and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 minutes.