recipe | cheese stuffed shells with homemade marinara sauce

A while ago, I posted an Instagram of our dinner which consisted of cheese stuffed shells with homemade marinara sauce.  We've made it at least twice since then and it has quickly become an easy go-to {aside from the homemade sauce}.  Many asked for the recipe and while I can't claim any portion of this as my own, it truly is delicious.  The shell recipe was given to me by a friend and the marinara/tomato sauce is via Alton Brown, Good Eats.  And just a side note... I am not a food blogger, nor do I intend to become one in the near future, so this is as good as it gets.

Enjoy!


Cheese Stuffed Shells

Ingredients
1 pkg large shells
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 jar marinara sauce or 3 cups homemade sauce

Directions
Cook the shells in salted boiling water.  

In a large bowl, mix all the cheeses, egg, and Italian seasoning.

Pour some sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Fill the shells with the cheese mixture and place in the baking dish.  Pour more sauce on top of the filled shells.  Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until sauce begins to bubble.

*Note:  Last time we made this, I added a shredded carrot and zucchini to the cheese mixture.  It made me feel like I was adding a little nutritional value to a dairy and carb filled meal.
 
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Pantry Friendly Tomato Sauce
adapted from recipe by Alton Brown

Ingredients
2 (28-ounce cans) whole, peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
2 ounces olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper

Directions
In a sieve over medium sauce pot, strain the tomatoes of their juice into the pot.  Add the sherry vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil to the tomato juice.  Stir and cook over high heat.  Once bubbles begin to form on the surface, reduce to a simmer.  Allow liquid to reduce by 1/2 or until liquid has thickened to a loose syrup consistency.

Squeeze each tomato thoroughly to ensue most seeds are removed.  Set the tomatoes aside.

Cut carrot, onion, and celery into uniform sizes and combine with olive oil and garlic in a roasting pan over low heat.  Sweat the mirepoix (medium-low heat) until the carrots are tender and the onion becomes translucent, 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the roasting pan.

Place roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven and broil for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Tomatoes should start to brown slightly on edges with light carmelization.  Remove the pan from the broiler.  Place the pan back on the stove and add the chicken stock.  Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes over medium heat.

Put the tomatoes into a deep pot or bowl and add the reduced tomato liquid.  Blend to the desired consistency and adjust seasoning.




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