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Creamy Stuffed Shells

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Ingredients

18 jumbo pasta shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
5 minced garlic cloves
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (26 ounce) jar pasta sauce
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

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Creamy Stuffed Shells

  • Serves 6
  • Easy

About This Recipe

I have a problem. I love cream cheese, and it seems that many people do not. I’ll never understand this. Not liking cream cheese is like not liking chocolate. Or ice cream. I do not trust people with these hangups.

When I worked at Pillsbury I developed recipes, which means I first sat in their extensive cookbook library and browsed to find inspiration. Then I would work in the test kitchens, creating recipes to present to home ecs who were responsible for cookbooks and recipes on package labels.

I developed this fabulous recipe that was made of pork chops stuffed with a creamy filling that included spinach and lots of garlic and the dreaded cream cheese. I’ll never forget the words of one home ec who said, “this filling is just too cream cheesy.”

That phrase has become legendary at my house. We use it to express distaste for something, and to mock those with food hangups. But for me, nothing is ever “too cream cheesy.”

If you like cream cheese too, with its velvety texture and rich tangy flavor, this is the pasta recipe for you. A rich filling made of ricotta, Parmesan, lots of onions and garlic, mozzarella, Parm, and … cream cheese … is stuffed inside jumbo pasta shells, and the whole thing is baked in a tangy red sauce. It’s so good and so simple. Ricotta tastes too thin to me, and it needs the heft and body of cream cheese.

And if anyone ever says to you, “this is too cream cheesy,” cut them out of your life. You don’t need that kind of negativity.

Steps

1
Done

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13" x 9" glass baking dish with nonstick baking spray.

2
Done

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta shells for 2 minutes less than the recommended time. The shells will finish cooking as the dish bakes in the oven. Drain the shells, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

3
Done

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 9 minutes or until tender. Remove the pan from the heat.

4
Done

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, cream cheese, egg, and basil and mix well. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and mix again.

5
Done

Now add the onion mixture to the cheese mixture and stir.

6
Done

Put the pasta sauce in the prepared glass baking dish.

7
Done

Make sure that each shell is drained and doesn't have water hiding inside. Stuff each with some of the cheese mixture. As you work, put the stuffed shells on top of the pasta sauce in the dish.

8
Done

When you're all done, if you have any leftover cheese mixture add it to the shells. It's nice if the shells are overflowing, since the filling will cook down a bit in the oven. Sprinkle everything with the Romano cheese.

9
Done

Bake the casserole for 30 to 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the filling is all melty and starts to brown. Eat up.

lindaBest

Linda Larsen has a B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College, and a B.S. in Food Science and Nutrition with High Distinction from the University of Minnesota. She has worked for the Pillsbury Company on the Bake-Off and in their test kitchens since 1988. Linda has written 37 cookbooks (and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005.

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