Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cream Cheese Stuffed Shells with a Roasted Red Pepper Marinara

Maybe this is my Golden Ticket into the "Land of Cooking".  These stuffed shells are simply wonderful.  They have a bright creamy filling that melts in your mouth.  A deep rich sauce that carries a sweet tang of contrast.  And of course, layer upon layer of melted mozzarella cheese.   Perfection at it's finest.  You just gotta make this one.

1 box of large shell pasta
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 roasted red peppers (chopped-see my Roasted Pepper recipe)
1-29 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1-8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp. of Italian seasonings
fresh cracked pepper/ sea salt
2 eggs (beaten)
2 pkg. of cream cheese (softened)
1/4 oz. (small bunch) of fresh basil leaves (chopped)
1/2 tsp. of fresh lemon zest
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
2 tsp. of dried parsley

-Preheat oven to 375*.  Prepare pasta to Au dente' as directed on package (if fully cooked, they will fall apart when being stuffed); strain and place on paper towels to dry.  In a large deep saucepan, heat up about 1-2 T. of e.v.o. over medium-high heat.  Toss in red peppers, garlic and some salt/ pepper to saute' for about 2-3 minutes.  Pour in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and Italian seasonings; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer.  Meanwhile for the filling, mix together the eggs, cream cheese, basil and lemon zest in a medium mixing bowl.  Spread about 1/2 cup or so of the marinara sauce across the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish (keeps shells from sticking to pan).   Begin stuffing each cooked and dried shell with a heaping spoonful of the filling and place snugly together in dish.  Cover first with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, then with the remainder of the sauce and finish with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Garnish with parsley.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!

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