Stuffed Shells Bolognese ~ a rich meaty Bolognese sauce elevates these stuffed shells from a family dinnertime classic to a special occasion centerpiece.
I adore stuffed shells, but I rarely make them because it seems like a lot of trouble to go to. The recipe has to be something really special to tempt me, and this one is. Bolognese sauce, with its two kinds of meat and so many layers of flavor, transforms an already delicious comfort food into something super deluxe.
I’m using my original bolognese sauce recipe that’s served me so well over the years. It doesn’t take that much longer than a regular meat sauce, and the result is so worth it. The lavish flavor is built, layer by layer, from the bottom up ~ it starts with sauteing aromatic vegetables until they start to caramelize. The meat is a mixture of beef and pork, and the pork really makes the difference. Veal is often added into the mix, but I don’t eat veal so I never use it. I make sure to use great quality canned San Marzano tomatoes for this sauce.
A good shot of cognac enriches the tomato sauce, and a bit of milk or cream finishes it off. Sometimes I’ll add a touch of freshly grated nutmeg. The flavor is heavenly.
Make sure to get Barilla Jumbo Shells for this Stuffed Shells Bolognese, the larger size means they’ll be easier to stuff. I adapted my recipe from the one on the box.
- Bolognese sauce, recipe HERE
- 1 12-ounce box of Barilla Jumbo Shells
- olive oil
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 packed cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Set oven to 350F
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil, and cook the shells a couple of minutes less than what the package tells you. Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil so they don't stick, and set aside. I like to lay them out single layer on a baking sheet or platter.
- Keep your Bolognese sauce warm on the stove.
- Mix together the ricotta, egg, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheeses, along with the parsley in a large bowl and make sure it's all well combined. I add a teaspoon each of salt and fresh cracked black pepper, use more if you like.
- Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking pan. I used a round cast iron pan, but you can also use a 9x13 size casserole.
- Fill each of the shells with the cheese mixture and place them in the pot, open side up. Wedge as many as you can onto the first layer, and add a second layer if you have to.
- Cover the shells liberally with the sauce and bake for about 30 minutes, or until everything is hot and bubbling. Add the remaining cheeses to the top and bake for another 5 minutes, or until melted.
- Serve hot with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or basil.
- You might not need the whole box of shells, but cook them all anyway, because some of them inevitably get broken during cooking and become unusable.
- I stacked my shells and ended up wishing I had arranged them all in one level in a larger pan because they would have been easier to serve. A 9×13 would work well.
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