So much cheese.
I made these per my boyfriend’s request.
He is pretty much game for anything if there is lots of cheese and meat involved.
They turned out awesome. This sauce would be great on its own with spaghetti or penne if you are not into filled pastas.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
-1 12 oz. box of jumbo pasta shells
-1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1.5 lbs. hot Italian sausage
-1 tsp. dried basil
-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
-2 bay leaves
-2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes (the Italian brands are the best)
-1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 (15 oz.) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
-1 c. grated parmesan cheese
-2 T. fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
-2 T. fresh basil, chopped
-3 egg yolks
-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta shells for 6-7 minutes, until a few minutes less than al dente. You want them to be slightly undercooked since they will cook more in the oven. Once finished, remove shells from pot with a slotted spoon, and place on an oiled baking sheet to cool, so they don’t stock together.
Preheat oven to 350℉. Heat a large skillet with a healthy drizzle (2-3 T. of olive oil) to medium/high heat. Sauté onions and garlic with a dash of salt and pepper for 6-8 minutes or until caramelized and golden. Add sausage, breaking up with a spatula, and saute for an additional 5 minutes or until cooked through and browned.
Add dried basil, thyme, oregano, red pepper flake, fennel, and bay leaves to sausage mixture, and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste, and taste to season with additional salt and pepper. Cover, and let simmer on medium low.
Make the cheese filling. Combine ricotta, parmesan, fresh basil and parsley, egg yolks, and salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl, and stir to combine, folding with a rubber spatula. Place about 3 cups of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Fill the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture each, and place filled shells in the sauced baking dish. Fill all of the shells, and they should just fit in the pan. You might have a few extra. Top with remaining sauce, and then 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. AND another handful of parmesan if desired. (I totally did).
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and golden. Serve, and top with more chopped parsley and more grated parm, if desired.
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