Dining In Feed an Army or Freeze for Later
By Karen Schulz
Growing up with the last name of Napoli, you can imagine how spoiled I was by the real deal Italian dishes that came out of my grandmother’s kitchen, and, subsequently, the kitchen of my Irish mother, who was a quick study on my father’s favorite foods. The great thing about Italian dishes is they are so easy to make once you understand the basics.
Popular, classic, everyday Italian pasta dishes like ravioli, tortellini, manicotti, lasagna, or stuffed shells are virtually all the same ingredients with different nuances. For example, if you don’t want a lot of cheese, then tortellini is for you, but if you love cheese, stuffed shells are the way to go.
The beauty of stuffed shells is that you can make a couple trays and feed an army or serve one dish for dinner and freeze the rest for another night. As we close the books on summer, I look to hearty, satisfying, healthy dinners, like stuffed shells, to refuel everyone after full days of work, academics, sports, and other activities.
If you are keeping an eye on your carbs, there are amazing pasta alternatives like Banza, a chickpea pasta packed with protein. You can also find enriched pastas with vitamins, as well as gluten-free pastas. I’m a big fan of artisan pastas. I love the shapes and they taste fresh and light.
So, experiment, see what works for you, and enjoy some classics right in your own home. <Manga!>
<<Gramma Napoli Stuffed Shells>>
1 12-ounce box jumbo shells
4 cups ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup ground Parmesan
1 T. chopped parsley
½ t. kosher salt
¼ t. fresh ground black pepper
⅛ t. ground nutmeg
1 32-ounce jar marinara sauce (I use Gramma Napoli available at June & Ho)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together cheeses, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
In a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish, spread ½ cup of sauce. Fill each cooked shell with about 1½ T. cheese mixture, layer in dish. Spread half of remaining sauce over shells. Layer remaining filled shells over sauce or start a second dish.
Spread remaining sauce over shells, sprinkle with additional Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Uncover for the last five minutes of baking.