Archive for the ‘noodles’ Category

Meat Stuffed Shells

This is a delicious recipe taken almost verbatim from Emeril Lagasse. The only changes I’ve made have been to add a little more sauce and cheese and to alter the cooking a bit so that it doesn’t dry out. This recipe freezes very well–just allow extra time for thawing and a little more baking.

  • Prep Time: 90 minutes
  • Baking Time: 25 minutes
  • Servings: 7 (3 shells each)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (18 to 20 shells)
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound ground veal
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Essence (Creole Seasoning)

2 1/2 parts paprika
2 parts salt
2 part garlic powder
1 part black pepper
1 part onion powder
1 part cayenne pepper
1 part dried leaf oregano
1 part dried thyme

Basic Red Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
16 ounces whole peeled tomatoes, broken into pieces, and their juices
16 ounces tomato sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pasta shells, and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally with a long-handled spoon to prevent the shells from sticking together. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until very soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the ground veal and cook, stirring, until cooked and browned. Add the squeezed spinach and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Add the spinach mixture, the extra-virgin olive oil, Essence, remaining teaspoon of salt, the basil, oregano, and pepper, and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells in the prepared dish.
  5. Pour the Basic Red Sauce over the filled shells and top with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake about 15 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 10, until bubbly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Basic Red Sauce

  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and sugar. Stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally

Yield: 3 cups

Preparation/Cooking Notes

As with all noodles, allow the shells decent time to cool so that sauce can adhere well.

Serving Notes

Goes well with aa green green vegetable (e.g., green beans). Be sure to include bread (garlic or regular Italian) to sop up the delicious sauce!

Richard’s Casserole

This simple, hearty dish was a favorite of my father’s to prepare. It easy and fast to make, feeds a family, and may be even tastier as a leftover. I’ve never known anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it. The original recipe includes meat, but you can make a vegetarian version that remains filling and flavorful enough to satisfy any meat-lover.

  •  Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Baking Time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz boxes of elbow macaroni
  • 2 lbs hamburger
  • 1 lb sliced American cheese
  • 2-4  medium cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Other Necessaries

  • Casserole dish approx 10″ x 16″ x 3″
  • Cover for dish or aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Boil the noodles, following directions for al dente. When done, place in colander and spray with cool water to halt cooking. Allow to drain and cool.
  2. Crumble the hamburger into a heated sauté pan. Cook over medium heat for several minutes until light brown, taking care not to overcook. When done, place cooked meat in a colander to drain off grease.
  3. Clean any grease out of the sauté pan and add and heat the olive oil. Add the onion and then a little later the garlic. Sautee until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the hamburger to the onion/garlic mix and cook for an another minute or two, tossing and mixing the ingredients to distribute the flavors. Do not over cook. Remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Preheat oven the 350 degrees.
  6. In a large stock pot or mixing bowl, add the cooked noodles and the onion/garlic/hamburger mix. Add the salt and pepper.
  7. Use a knife or your hands cut or tear the whole tomatoes into dice-sized (or slightly larger) chunks and add to the mix. Or you can just squeeze them in your fists after adding them to the bowl.) Also pour in the juice from the cans. Toss all ingredients with a spoon, mixing well.
  8. Butter the bottom and sides of the casserole dish. Add half of the mixture to the dish. Use a spatula or spoon to spread it evenly over the bottom and compress it lightly.
  9. Cover the entire surface of the casserole with slices of cheese. Then pour in and distribute the rest of the mix, and cover it with cheese as well.
  10. Cover the casserole with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the over. Create a little space between the foil and the casserole so that the cheese doesn’t stick to it when it melts.
  11. After 20 minutes, remove the cover, reduce hear to 325, and cook an additional 5 minutes or until top is nicely browned.

Preparation/Cooking Notes

  • For best consistency, when boiling the noodles, boil one minute less than the noodles’ al dente instructions call for (the subsequent baking will make up for this). Over-boiling will result in a mushy casserole.
  • For best results, allow the noodles to dry completely before mixing with the other ingredients.  You can even cook them a day ahead of time. Doing this will allow the other ingredients to bind with the noodles.
  • The casserole can be prepared ahead of time and kept in fridge for baking  later. You may need to extend the oven time a bit in this event.

Recipe Variations

  • According to your tastes, you can substitute other ingredients for the hamburger (ground turkey, for example) . For a vegetarian version, diced portabella mushroom works quite well.
  • You can try different cheeses, although the mildness of American cheese works quite well here. To add a little tanginess, add a few slices of Swiss or cheddar  while still using a “base” of American cheese.
  • Do NOT substitute spaghetti sauce for the whole tomatoes–doing so overwhelms the delicate mix of flavors in the dish.

 Serving Notes

A green salad and a red wine make a great accompaniment to this dish.