Thursday, May 24, 2007

The long awaited RECIPE!!!!

The Back Story:
When Shawn and I were dating I bought stuffed shells from Costco. Shawn LOVES stuffed shells - well, I say that lightly - Shawn has a love affair with stuffed shells. Costco does not carry them anymore and I have been unable to find them anywhere. So, to thank Shawn for all of the work he has been putting into the house for the upcoming party, I decided to make him stuffed shells - only I couldn't find EXTRA LARGE shells anywhere. I had to settle for manacotti - which, I might add, was a HUGE hit!!! I can't take credit for this recipe - as the idea was inspired by Giada De Laurentis (of course I took her recipe and tailored it to my taste).

The Recipe:
12 ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (approximately 36 shells)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing baking sheet
5 cups marinara sauce (I will not post my sauce recipe on here! I am very protective of my sauce recipe - but if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want the recipe - email me and I will send it to you - I love my readers). :)
2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (I didn't use this)
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves (I didn't use this either)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Lightly oil a 12 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and set aside. Lightly oil the baking sheet and set aside.

Partially cook the pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly tender but still quite firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. You will continue cooking the shells in the oven after they have been stuffed. Using a slotted spoon, drain pasta shells and place on oiled baking sheet, spreading them out so that they don't stick together and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, stir the ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolks, basil, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spoon 1 1/4 cups of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 2 tablespoons per shell. Arrange the shells in the prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with the mozzarella.

Bake in the lower third of your oven until the filling is heated through and the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Here's the OTHER recipe that was amazing (very easy - and tasty). Cheese and Rosemary Breadsticks:
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (fresh grated - don't use the stuff in the green can)
1/3 cup grated Gruyere (also fresh grated)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 (11-ounce) container refrigerated breadstick dough (recommended: Pillsbury)
Finely ground sea salt, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper. In a food processor, chop the Parmesan, Gruyere and rosemary together until coarsely chopped. Set the cheese mixture aside. Separate the dough strips. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut each dough strip in half lengthwise to form thin strips. Working with dough strip at a time, coat each strip with the cheese mixture, pressing very gently. Twist each cheese covered dough strip and place onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with the salt, if you wish.

Bake until the breadsticks are golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the warm breadsticks to a basket and serve.