I was trying to find a pasta dish to bring to a family Christmas dinner, so of course I turned to my go-to Pasta Queen: Lidia Bastianich. I saw a youtube video of her making these Jumbo Stuffed Shells but couldn't find the recipe on her site. So I thought I'd share the recipe here with you all because this dish was a hit! The kids and adults loved these stuffed shells and the delicious marinara sauce. My one tip would be to make lots of sauce so that you can top off each serving with a generous spooning of the yummy marinara. Check out the recipe below!
Lidia Bastianich's Jumbo Stuffed Shells
Adapted from Lidia Bastianich
6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cans of whole plum tomatoes (San Marzano is highly recommended)
2 pepperoncino's, seeded
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 lb Ricotta cheese, drained
1 lb Mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
1 C Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 C frozen peas
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
1 large egg
1 box (340 g) of Jumbo Shells
***Reserve 2 cups of pasta water if you drain the shells
1. Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. You want the shells to be under done because they will still have time to bake in the sauce to fully cook through. (For example, the instructions on the box of pasta that I used stated to cook the pasta for 13 mins for al dente, but I only had my pasta in the water for 10 minutes). After cooking, fish the pasta out using a large spider strainer (careful not to tear the shells) and run them under cold water so they stop cooking.
2. Make the Marinara Sauce: In a dutch oven on medium-high heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic and saute garlic until lightly browned. Add in the canned tomatoes and mash the tomatoes with a potato masher (to break up the larger chunks). Add the pepperoncino, salt, pepper, pepper flakes and oregano. Add about 1 to 2 cups of the pasta water, this depends on how thick you want your sauce, and bring to a boil. Stir frequently and after about 10 minutes or so, lower the heat and let simmer with the lid on for at least 30 minutes. Stir every few minutes to make sure nothing is burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste the sauce and season as necessary. Remove from heat when done.
3. Make the stuffing: Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, mix together all the cheese, peas, parsley, salt and pepper. When combined, add the egg and mix together.
4. Stuff the shells: I liked to use my hands for this, take a big scoop of the cheesy stuffing and fill each shell, careful not to rip the pasta.
5. Layer and bake: Add about 1 cup of the marinara sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish and then arrange the shells in one layer in the baking dish. Top with more marinara sauce and then reserve the remaining sauce to be used at plating/serving. Sprinkle the pasta with a few handfuls of parmigiano-reggiano. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve topped with the extra marinara sauce.