meatless . #40 {stuffed shells w broccolini}

Wow, I need to set my tripod back up. After about 25 photos, this was the best I could salvage. Since the days get darker earlier I struggle with the lighting in my house. Guess it’s time to read up a little more about getting my settings right. I also wish I’d remembered to grab my light box from the guest bedroom before the company helping us with our house repairs packed that room up. Oh well. This is, after all, a learning experience. While the photos of our dinner didn’t turn out great, the meal did. If you are looking for an easy to prepare and inexpensive dinner, this is for you. And you will love all the wonderful flavor.  The nuttiness of the roasted broccolini, hint of nutmeg and the heat of the crushed red peppers. Three shells per person is plenty when served with a salad and vegetable or warm bread. But be warned, it will be hard to eat only three. 

Stuffed Shells with Roasted Broccolini
serves 6

1 bunch of broccolini, about 6-8 spears
5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 – 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 – 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. capers, chopped
24 jumbo dried pasta shells
1 – 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. basil, chopped
1 cup grated mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan 
2 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 450º. Toss broccolini with 2 tbsp. oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 5-8 minutes until the broccolini just starts to sear. Remove let cool enough to handle then roughly chop. Set aside. Lower oven to 350º.

Before you start to prepare the sauce, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the water and cook the noodles to al dente according to package instruction – do not over cook the noodles or they may tear when you start to stuff them. When cooked, drain and lay out on a cookie sheet to cool.

To make sauce, in a medium pot, heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic for 2 minutes. or until fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes, pepper flakes and capers. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. 

Prepare stuffing by combining the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl. Stir in chopped broccolini and basil. Add cheeses and mix to incorporate. 

Use remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil to grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Add 1/3 of the marinara sauce to coat the bottom of the dish. Gently stuff each shell with the ricotta broccolini mixture and layer into the dish. Cover the shells with the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.  {Oops…we love cheese so may have sprinkled some more mozz on top. You can never have too much cheese, right?}

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