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Stuffed Shells with ricotta and cremini mushrooms-red pepper filling-wow-what a mouthful! Creamy and filling indeed, but it’s once a year that I stuff a shell and stuff myself with this delight of a dish.

Ricotta, I hear is not that hard to make, but I do not like the smell of milk, so the idea of making ricotta from whole milk or even skim milk does not interest me at all. So I bought the best ricotta I could find. I love the combination of ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella- add that to the soft textures of mushrooms and sautéed red peppers, put it into a pasta shell and viola-a great entrée.

Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

Prep 40 minutes, Bake 30 Minutes

Oven 350 degrees

Makes 6 servings

20 dried jumbo shell macaroni

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cremini mushrooms

1 medium red-or yellow sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1 Tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces bulk Italian sausage

2 eggs, lightly beaten ricotta cheese 2 cups

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan Cheese

Fresh Tomato sauce (see recipe below) or 3 1/2 cups purchased pasta sauce

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook mushrooms and sweet pepper in hot oil over medium heat about 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet. Add sausage to skillet; cook until brown. Drain off fat.

In a bowl, combine eggs, ricotta cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Stir in vegetables and sausage. Spoon mixture into cooked shells.

Arrange filled shells in an ungreased 3 quart rectangular baking dish. Top shells with Fresh tomato sauce or purchased sauce. Bake Covered about 30 minutes or until shells are heated through.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

In a large skillet, cook 1 large onion, shopped, and 3 cloves garlic, minced in 1 Tablespoon hot olive oil over medium heat until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir 6 cups, coarsely chopped , seeded tomatoes; 1 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper; and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cook and stir about 8 minutes or until sauce is desired consistency. Makes 1 3/4 cups.

Ciao!

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