I was given New Classic Family Dinner as a Christmas gift a couple of years back and kept looking at it and putting it back on the shelf, looking at it and putting it back on the shelf. In a search for something new and different I came across this recipe. It will be making repeat performances!
- 1/2 pound jumbo shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in very small dice
- 3 ounces Gruyere cheese, cut in very small dice
- 1 2/3 cups Bolognese sauce
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
NOTE: I made my own ricotta cheese. Jealous? It’s okay, you can admit it. I know you are. Or you quite possibly think I am an idiot when all I really have to do is go into the supermarket. But nothing – and I mean nothing – beats fresh ricotta and it’s so EASY! Check it out! Also, I did not use the recipe for bolognese in the book. It was really long and complicated and long cooking and too many ingredients. Instead I used my darling Lucinda Scala Quinn’s recipe for Bolognese Sauce (recipe here) and it was wonderful in this dish! (You can see a picture of my spurdle there too!)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and add the shells. Cook 10-12 minutes, until just al dente. Drain and toss gently with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
NOTE: The box of shells I bought was 10 ozs, so over half a pound. Good thing too, I had SO much filling!
In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, garlic, parsley, thyme, cream, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
In another bowl, toss together the mozzarella and the Gruyere.
NOTE: Next time I may cut back on the Gruyere and add more mozzarella. I thought the Gruyere was a little bit strong here.
Preheat the oven to 400. Oil a 2-quart baking dish with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Fill the shells with approximately 1 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture, a heaped teaspoon of the Bolognese sauce, and a generous pinch of the cheese mixture. Place the shells in the baking dish as you fill them, packing them in tightly.
NOTE: I used my tiny cookie scoop for this. It is a really messy process!
Cover the dish tightly with oiled foil and place in the preheated oven. Bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle on the Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the mixture is bubbling. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.
NOTE: I have the Reynold’s Quick Release Foil so I skipped the oiling the foiling part.
This was a fantastic dinner. Filling. Hearty. Homey. CRUNCHY bits (my favorite part). Leftovers for lunches the next day. If I hadn’t made the ricotta and the bolognese and this dish all in one afternoon, I may not have been as exhausted. But this is easy enough to make ahead and then just pop in the oven when ready. I served this with a simple salad and a baguette and we were good to go.