veal stuffed shells

Okay … you’re gonna have to bear with me on this one. I don’t actually measure very much when I’m cooking italian. I mean, I literally just have the ingredients written down and I wing it for the most part. That goes for sauces, pastas, lasagnes … the whole she-bang. I’ll try to put something in there for you, but let’s be real; you’re just going to adjust it to your taste anyhoo. Amiright?

(You can nod. I don’t need verbal affirmation.)

joker nod

For the sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped onion … pretty sure I just chop up a small one. Yellow, white, sweet … whichevs
  • Minced basil (I use fresh, but you can use dried if you wanna)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Oregano (I try to use fresh, but sometimes have to settle for dried)
  • 1 large can tomato sauce
  • 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes 
  • A large dollop of tomato paste
  • Around a cup of water

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil. (I use my Dutch oven. Less splatter.) Add the onions, garlic and all the seasonings and cook over a medium heat until the onions are soft. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, then turn off the heat.

For the shells:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
  • Salt
  • 1 large finely chopped onion
  • Minced garlic (I like lots)
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 bag spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • A handful of grated parmesan (grate it yourself, please and thank you. don’t use the shaker can stuff. bleh.)
  • A handful of grated romano (same as above)
  • A sprinkle or pinch or some such precise measurement of each of the following:
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Oregano
  • Thyme (use fresh if you can)
  • Basil (use fresh if you can)
  • Some grated mozzarella (totally grate it yourself .. don’t get the bag. I tend to like less than most, so use as much as you prefer)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a nice sized lasagne pan.

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until just al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft. Add the ground veal and cook until it is browned. Add the spinach, salt and pepper and cook until it is wilted. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the cheeses and eggs, salt and pepper, and the rest of the spices. Stir in the veal/spinach mixture and combine thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into the shells and arrange in the lasagna pan. (It often makes so much that I have enough left over for another small baking dish for freezing or sharing.) Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with more mozzarella.

Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until bubbly. Let it sit a few minutes before serving.

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