This is by far one of the most calorie-laden dishes I’ve made all year. But also one of the most delicious :)
We went out to an Italian restaurant recently, and JW told me afterwards, “I’ll bet you could make a really good alfredo sauce.” I said, “Yes, probably.” And he proceeded to sketch out a dinner for me to try making, involving shells stuffed with ricotta filling, covered in alfredo sauce. Since JW doesn’t often have dinner requests, I decided to oblige. And this deliciousness was what resulted.
Here’s the big picture: Boil large pasta shells, and stuff with a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, salt, pepper, and dried parsley [I needed JW's hands to hold open the shells while I squeezed the filling in]. Let them sit while preparing the alfredo sauce – butter (the shells are swimming in it, can you tell?), half & half, garlic, gruyere and parmesan cheeses, and fresh parsley. Pour over shells, cover, and bake.
There is NO way that a recipe with over a pound of cheese in it could be bad. Bad for you, but that’s a different story.
All things considered, it isn’t a difficult recipe to make, doesn’t call for meat, and certainly has the ‘wow’ factor going for it. JW took one bite and was in heaven. We served it with fresh string beans, and the presentation was lovely.
Note: This recipe is for a halved version. Double it all if you want to make a 9×13 pan size. Also, I recommend using quality ingredients for the alfredo sauce. Fresh cheeses are a must.
Ricotta-Stuffed Shells with Alfredo Sauce
Shells & Filling (adapted from this recipe)
- 1/2 (12-oz) box jumbo pasta shells
- 1 (15-oz) container ricotta cheese [I used lowfat, like it made any difference]
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper
Alfredo Sauce (recipe here)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup half and half, or heavy cream
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan, Gruyere, or a combination.
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook shells in boiling salted water, according to package instructions. Meanwhile, combine egg, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl until well mixed.
Stuff cooked shells with ricotta mixture and place in casserole dish.
Make alfredo sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk constantly until heated through and cheese is melted. Stir in parsley.
Pour sauce over shells in dish, cover with foil, and bake 45-60 minutes, uncovering for final 5-10 minutes of baking.