The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind! We closed up our house in Florida, returned to Umbria for our yearly six-month stay, rushed to clean our Umbrian farmhouse from top to bottom, then left for an eleven day trip around Sicily. Phew! I’m tired just thinking about it. The Internet in Sicily was very moody, so I wasn’t able to post anything while I was away apart from a few daily photos on Instagram and FaceBook. In fact, some days I was lucky if I was able to get my email downloaded on my iPad. We truly had a lovely time in Sicily, but it sure is good to be back home in Umbria!
I love baked pasta dishes for many reasons. I like a dish I can prepare ahead of time and then simply bake just before dinner. I also prefer baked pasta dishes when I am entertaining as they can even be made the day before and then refrigerated giving you lots of time for other preparations. Best of all, there is nothing so satisfying to me than pulling a bubbly hot, golden brown pasta dish from the oven.
This dish is another one that originated out of my need to use up ingredients in my refrigerator before we left Florida. I had a one pound container of crab meat along with ricotta cheese in my refrigerator. I have used this combination in everything from cannelloni to lasagna but decided instead to prepare a dish of stuffed shells, covered in a creamy tomato sauce. When pre-boiling pasta that will be later baked, the most important tip is to cook it much less than the recommended baking time to ensure it does not end up mushy. Although mixing cheese with seafood is typical not done, in this dish where the filling combines crab and creamy ricotta cheese, extra grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese just works.
Deborah Mele 2016
- 1 Box Stuffed Shells
- 1 Cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Pound Lump Crabmeat
- 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Egg
- 3 Green Onions, Finely Chopped
- 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
Creamy Tomato Sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
- 2 (14 Ounce) Cans Finely Chopped Tomatoes
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/3 – 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino or Parmesn Cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil, heat a saucepan with the olive oil over medium heat.
- Cook the onion and garlic until fragrant, about 4 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes.
- Stir in 1/3 to 1/2 of the heavy cream depending on your preference, then keep warm over low heat.
- Cook the pasta three minutes less than recommended cooking time.
- Drain pasta.
- In a bowl, mix together the ricotta and crabmeat filling ingredients until well mixed.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Pour in some of the sauce to cover the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch oven-proof baking dish.
- Fill the stuffed shells with the crabmeat and ricotta filling, then arrange on top of the sauce in the casserole dish.
- Spoon the remaining sauce to cover, then sprinkle the top with the grated Pecorino or Romano cheese.
- Bake about 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.
- Serve and enjoy!