Stuffed Shells with Chunky Tomato Sauce

Ricotta and herb stuffed pasta shells make for super simple entertaining, as they easily feed a crowd and can be prepared well in advance. Onions, peppers, and mushrooms are sautéed and then mixed with your favorite jarred tomato sauce, creating a tasty and chunky sauce. I love this sauce and often mix it with spaghetti, but I know some people have an aversion to little pieces in an otherwise silky, smooth tomato sauce. If this is the case, feel free to skip the sauce recipe and use it straight from the jar. The stuffed shells are simply seasoned with garlic, basil, and parsley. They can be assembled and frozen well in advance, then placed in a baking dish along with the sauce, directly from frozen. This way, you have homemade stuffed shells whenever you like!

Stuffed Shells with Chunky Tomato Sauce

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz. container cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2- 28 oz. jars marinara sauce

Ingredients for Pasta Shells:

  • ½ lb. large pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
  • 16 oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
  • ¼ cup basil, minced
  • 3 cups pre-shredded low-moisture mozzarella, divided
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper, and mushrooms, and sauté until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in sauce and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta with garlic, parsley, basil, 2 cups mozzarella, and salt and pepper. Put mixture in a Ziploc bag and cut off one edge for easy piping into the pasta shells. Alternatively, just spoon the ricotta mixture into the shells. 
  3. Scoop a ladleful of sauce into a baking dish. Arrange shells on top with the seam-side up. Top with enough sauce to cover the noodles, then sprinkle on 1 cup of mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes. 
  4. Serve with extra sauce on the side, if desired. 

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