This family-friendly recipe is a comforting weeknight meal consisting of jump pasta shells filled with a creamy mix of ricotta, mozzarella and basil pesto. It’s piled in a baking dish with cherry tomatoes and more cheese, then baked until bubbling and melty. You’ll want to par-boil the jumbo shells until they’re just barely al dente, they’ll continue to bake in the oven until they’re perfectly tender.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 60 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 20 baked shells
- 6 ounces (about 20) jumbo pasta shells
- 1 pound (2 heaping cups) ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/3 cup basil pesto, store-bought or homemade
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
- Arrange oven rack, preheat the oven, and boil water: Arrange a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water (one and a half teaspoons of salt per quart of water) to a boil over high heat.
- Cook and drain the pasta: Add the shells to the boiling salted water and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely al dente, or still firm when bitten, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain the shells in a colander.
Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat while still in the colander. Set aside to cool slightly while you make the cheese filling.
- Make the cheese filling: In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, pesto, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Drizzle tomatoes and garlic with olive oil and season: In a 9×13-inch broiler-safe baking dish add the tomatoes and garlic and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat and spread out in an even layer.
- Stuff the shells with cheese filling and add to baking dish: Stuff each shell with a generous spoonful (1 heaping tablespoon) of the cheese filling and nestle them between the tomatoes, filling-side up (you’ll have to move the tomatoes around a bit to make room).
- Sprinkle shells with cheese: Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and grated Parmesan over the stuffed shells.
- Bake stuffed shells: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake until the filling is just warmed through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the cheese melts and the tomatoes begin to release their juices, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Broil the stuffed shells, garnish, and serve: Switch the oven to broil on high. Broil the shells until the cheese browns in spots and the tomatoes blister, 2 to 3 minutes. Let the stuffed shells rest for 5 minutes and garnish with basil before serving, if desired.
Source: Simply Recipes