Conchiglioni Ripieni al Forno (Stuffed Pasta Shells)

Stuffed pasta very closely resembling the shape of ravioli can be traced all the way back to the 11th century Arab world. As Italy adopted these delicacies, stuffed pastas were as little as bite-sized cakes, like a Tortellini for example.

Conchiglioni, pronounced con – kill -YAWN – eee, is a large shell-shaped pasta, that is often served stuffed with meat or cheese beneath red sauce. Conchiglie is the smaller “seashell” pasta you often see in pasta salads and various soups. Many home cooks shy away from making stuffed pastas because they know how time consuming and labor intensive it is to make. My stuffed baked pasta shells recipe, with cheese, is easy to make but a very delicious dinner.

Ingredients

One 12-ounce box of jumbo pasta shells (I use Barilla)
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
3 cups pasta sauce

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the pasta shells to the water. Boil the pasta shells until they are tender, but still a little firm (al dente), about 12 minutes. When pasta is done, drain the shells, run under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

3. In a large bowl stir together the ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parsley.

4. Pour about 1 cup of pasta sauce into a 9×12 casserole dish.

5. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells, side by side, into the casserole dish.

6. Spoon the remaining pasta sauce on top of the shells and bake uncovered until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Mangia – Eat!

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Spaghetti Transatlantico

Spaghetti Transatlantico is actually an old recipe that was originated in a restaurant in Naples named Grande Ristorante Transatlantico. Known not only for it’s food but for it’s large veranda where one can enjoy a breath taking view of the Gulf of Naples while eating. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Loving pasta and seafood this is a perfect dish for me.

Ingredients

1 lb. spaghetti
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 lb. can peeled tomatoes or 1 1/2 lbs. of fresh very ripe Italian tomatoes
1 cup vegetable juice
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 dozen small shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 small cuttlefish, cleaned and diced
1/2 dozen mussels, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
1/2 dozen Little Neck clams, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbls. minced parsley or 1/8 tsp. dried parsley
 

Procedure

1. Saute garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil until golden but not brown. Discard the garlic.

2. Add the tomatoes and vegetable juice and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in another skillet, together with the mussels and clams. Simmer until shells open.

4. I leave the shells on but at this point you can remove the mussels and clams from their shells and add to tomato sauce along with shrimp, cuttlefish, parsley, salt and pepper.

5. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. In the meantime, cook spaghetti in boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often.

7. Drain. Mix with sauce and serve.

Serves 4.

Mangia-Eat!

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Polpette alla Casalinga (Meatballs)

“Ground meat patties in omentum: Grind chopped meat with the center of fine white bread that has been soaked in wine. Grind together pepper, garum, and pitted myrtle berries if desired. Form small patties, putting in pine nuts and pepper. Wrap in omentum and cook slowly in caroenum.” Huh? This is a quote from A Taste of Ancient Rome, Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, translated by Anna Herklotz, University of Chicago Press:Chicago, 1992 and taken from the ancient Roman cookbook Apicius. Believed to be written in the late 4th or early 5th century and included many meatball-type recipes. I am guessing they ground their meat back then on a rock since the meat grinder was not invented until the 1800′s.

In Italy today, meatballs are known as polpette and are generally eaten as a main course or in a soup. It was not until the Italians came to America with their recipes that we added it to our Spaghetti & Meatballs dish.

Ingredients

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 Tbls. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbls. minced parsley
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
 

Procedure

1. Mix lightly all the ingredients except for the olive oil and garlic.

2. Shape meat mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

3. Heat in skillet the olive oil and garlic.

4. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, turning occasionally. Pour off fat as it collects

5. Remove meatballs from skillet and add to the tomato meat sauce about 20 minutes before the sauce is done.

Yield: 10-12 meatballs (I always steal 1 before they go into the sauce, yum.) Enjoy!

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