Oh Giada, how I love thee. The flavor combinations that she comes up with are always a bit surprising but (almost) always outstanding. I don't have a lot of stuffed shells recipes in my repertoire, so when I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it.
Giada writes how she originally came up with this recipe when she had a lot of dark meat left over from a roast turkey, and she shredded it and came up with this concoction. The recipe calls for ground turkey, but next time I may actually try chicken thighs or dark turkey meat because I can see where it could use a smidge extra flavor. I didn't have time to make the Arrabbiata Sauce at the end of the recipe but I really do want to try it. I used regular jarred marinara - just make sure to liberally season both the filling and the sauce and you will be all set!
I ended up with WAY more than 24 shells, and I knew from the beginning that I wanted to freeze half a portion. It originally called for a 13 x 9 pan so I took two 8 x 8's and lined one with foil (the one going into the freezer). Make sure to spray both the baking dish AND the foil with cooking spray so that it doesn't stick when you defrost it. Cover the baking dish when you are done assembling the shells and stick in the freezer to leave overnight. Then, the next day, the whole frozen portion should slide right out of the dish. Cover it again with foil, stick in a freezer bag, and voila! you have a whole other meal waiting for you! Oh, and make sure that you stick the frozen shells back INTO the baking dish as soon as you take it out of the freezer!
from Giada De Laurentiis
Makes 6-8 servings
1 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey (I used 1.25 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped (I used a 14-ounce can)
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta chese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows (or 2 26-ounce jars of marinara)
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. Follow freezing directions here.
To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.