I was immediately drawn to the photo of this dish when I first spotted it in Bon Appétit magazine because it looked incredibly saucy. Maybe my expectations were too high regarding the amount of sauce, but next time I may even make 1.5 times the amount. It’s all about the sauce! 🙂
This classic marinara sauce was described as “the little black dress of Italian-American cooking.” This version, as well as the stuffed shells recipe, is from Palizzi Social Club in Philadelphia, PA, via Bon Appétit. The magazine rated it one of the Best New Restaurants in America in 2017 (#4). Quite an endorsement!
Yield: 8 servings
For the Classic Marinara Sauce:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs basil
- 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes)
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat oil in a medium heavy pot over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 8–10 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 5 minutes; stir in basil.
- Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go; season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce heat; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick, about 1 hour.
- Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Note: Sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.
12 ounces jumbo pasta shells
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 cups whole-milk fresh ricotta
3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, coarsely grated, divided
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups Classic Marinara Sauce, recipe above, divided
dried oregano and olive oil, for serving, as desired
- Preheat oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
- Cook shells in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente; drain. (I cooked mine for 9 minutes.) Run under cold water to stop the cooking and drain again. Place noodles on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Lightly whisk egg yolks and egg in a large bowl.
- Stir in ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and 1½ cups mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer filling to a large resealable plastic bag.
- Spread 1½ cups marinara sauce in a 13×9″ baking dish.
- Snip off 1 end of plastic bag and, working one at a time, squeeze filling into shells. I returned them to the rimmed baking sheet to make sure the filling was evenly distributed before placing the shells into the baking dish.
- Arranging the filled shells in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
- Top with remaining 1½ cups marinara sauce and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
- Cover pan tightly with foil and bake shells until sauce is bubbling throughout, 35–40 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.
- Carefully move rack to top of oven and heat broiler.
- Uncover pasta and broil until lightly browned on top, about 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle with oregano and more Parmesan and drizzle with oil, if desired.
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