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Italian food has a special place in our family. Every Christmas we forego turkey and ham, and instead we make homemade pasta. It’s a tradition we love, and I hope one day the kids will cherish those memories of making pasta together, and of the sauce simmering on the stove all day.
We don’t just eat Italian food at the holidays, of course. It makes its way to our table at least once a week, because it’s something our entire family eats well. It’s a treat having a meal each week that we know our kids will eat well without complaint. Family meals around the dinner table are a vital part of our week, and our kids know that our tradition at these meals is to have them each share the best part of their day and the worst. We get more insight into their days, and they get the opportunity to share, uninterrupted, with the family.
I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate into our dinners beyond just pasta and sauce (which we do have on a regular basis, since the kids love it so much), and last night I tried a new recipe that was a big hit – roasted garlic stuffed pasta shells.
These are delicious and have a surprise burst of flavor with a hidden clove of roasted garlic. Your family – and guests – will love them! They’re easy, too – here’s how to make your own:
Roasted Garlic Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Pasta shells
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup asiago cheese, grated
- Fresh basil
- Olive oil
- Ragu Traditional Sauce
- Shredded Mozzarella
- Separate and peel all your garlic cloves. I do two full bulbs of garlic when we’re entertaining because roasted garlic is great spread on bread, mixed in with green beans, or on its own, so I like having plenty on hand.
- Put the garlic, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt in foil and make sure the garlic is well coated with the oil & salt. Make sure your pouch is sealed well so you don’t have oil leaking out. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until the garlic is tender and golden – check on it periodically to make sure it’s not getting too dark. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a large pot, cook your pasta shells in boiling water for about 9 minutes or until they’re al dente. Remove them from the water and let them cool. I did 15 shells, but you can easily adjust this recipe for a smaller or larger amount.
- While you’re boiling the pasta, mix up your filling. There’s some flexibility to this, but we added 15 ounces of ricotta, 1/4 cup of grated asiago cheese, 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, and a pinch of salt. Taste as you add ingredients so you can get it to your liking.
- Take a 9×13″ pan and pour a little of your sauce into it – just enough to coat the bottom. Take each shell and fill it with about 1 tablespoon of your cheese filling, then place one clove of roasted garlic in and top with a little more filling until the garlic is hidden and the shell is well-filled. Place the shell in the pan, and repeat.
- Top each shell with a spoonful of pasta sauce, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella over the top. I used about 1 cup of cheese total, but you can adjust based on how cheesy you want these to be.
- Cover your pan with foil and bake these in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and top with a sprinkling of fresh chopped basil (about 2 tablespoons). Enjoy!
We love these shells for a great addition to our Italian meals, and they’re easy to change up with different flavor profiles. We used Traditional Ragu Sauce, but you could easily try one of their other flavors, too.
We served our shells with green beans, fresh Italian bread, and pappardelle pasta with meat and sauce. Since we had guests over – and especially since there were 5 kids in the mix – it was nice to have a variety to offer.