Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells w/ Vodka Cream Sauce

Where to start???  When I first saw the idea for jumbo shells stuffed with baby shells, I was pretty much mystified!  Once again, from my favorite, Noble Pig, I knew I had to give this one a try right away.  Holy moly, what a great recipe!  It's an impregnated shell smorgasbord!  I love how the baby shells break up the standard solid cheese filling you usually get with stuffed shells, yet you still get all the rich cheesy deliciousness!

Now I've never been too keen on the idea of vodka sauce.  Just the idea of VODKA on my pasta... it's always kinda turned me off.  But I decided to go with it this time and give it a try.  And let me tell you, if you haven't already tried it, it's fantastic!  You can't even taste the vodka, just GREAT flavor.  The recipe calls for a jar of sauce and she recommends the Emeril's brand.  But seeing as I was skeptical about the sauce to begin with, I decided to make it from scratch.  Based on a recommendation from my bestie, The Sassy Little Chef I went with a Rachel Ray recipe that was quick, easy, and oh so tasty!

So, if you are looking to try something that's takes classic flavors and puts a fun little spin on it, do try this one.  It's rich and wonderful without being to heavy.  Enjoy!

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells
From Better Homes and Gardens

24 dried jumbo shell macaroni
8 oz. dried tiny shell macaroni (2 cups)
2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded (8 oz.)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz)
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon white pepper or pepper
1 24 oz. jar vodka sauce (I hear Emeril's is great, but I made my own, see recipe below)
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer shells to a colander. Rinse with cold water; drain well and set aside. In same pan cook tiny shells according to package directions. Drain; set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine Gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, half-and-half and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Stir in tiny shells.
Spread 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Spoon cheese-shell mixture into drained jumbo shells; place stuffed shells in prepared baking dish. Top with remaining pasta sauce.
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with fresh basil and serve.

You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Sauce
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
2 cans crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat.


  1. A shell stuffed with more shells? What an intriguing and yes, "mystifying" idea. It looks delicious and you've raved, so I may have to try it. Thanks for sharing!