A hearty and satisfying meal that is sure to please everyone in the family, even the vegetarians. A perfect supper for a crisp fall evening. Pair it with a green salad, and you are good to go. My youngest son, Justin, does not like tomato sauce; I cook his shells separately placing some milk in the bottom of the dish so they stay moist. Tip: For a change of pace, add fresh chopped spinach, prosciutto ham, fresh chopped mint, and some pine nuts to the cheese mixture. Fill some of the shells with the basic mixture for the kids and fill the rest with the additions for the adults or adventuresome eaters. My grandmother always included fresh mint; it adds an unexpected and worthwhile lift. Time Saving Tip: Double the recipe and freeze the extra shells for dinner at a later date. These shells will keep well in the freezer, and you do not have to defrost, just add an extra 10 to 15 minutes to baking time. Servings: 6 Preparation Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the pasta shells to the water. Boil the pasta shells until they are tender, but still a little firm (al dente), about 10 minutes. Meanwhile make the filling (step 2). When pasta is done, drain the shells, run under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.
In a large bowl stir together: the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parsley or mint. Pour about 1 cup of pasta sauce into a 9x12 casserole dish. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells, side by side, (three lengthwise rows of 6 shells per row), into the casserole dish. At this point, the dish can be made and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Spoon the remaining pasta sauce on top of the shells and bake uncovered until bubbly, about 30 minutes. If using refrigerated shells, allow 40 minutes baking time.