Alice Choo-Shee-Nam—Living In Durham Community Blog
Impress Your Family and Friends with this Budget Friendly, Homemade , Delicious and Mouth watering Dish
Ricotta Stuffed Shell Lasagne with Bechamel And Garlic Pasta Sauce
BUDGET FRIENDLY INGREDIENTS
THE FILLING FOR THE SHELLS:
2 Cups of Fresh Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup of fresh chopped Basil leaves
1/2 Cup of Shallots
2 TBS of Olive Oil
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp. Coarse Salt ( I used Himalayan Crystal Pink Salt )
2 TBSP. All purpose Seasoning
6 Cloves of Fresh Garlic (Crushed)
An additional 2TBS of Olive Oil for drizzling on shells before baking.
Please Note: Your 2 Cups of Ricotta Cheese Filling will do for your 35 Shells that comes in the Pack.
Cost per Pack
1 Can of Evaporated Milk
1/2 Cup of Whole Milk ( I used 2 % Milk )
1/2 Tsp. freshly ground Nutmeg
1/4 Cup of water
1 TBS All purpose Seasoning
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
2 TBS. Butter
(No Flour is needed in your Bechamel Sauce) You don’t need to add flour to the Cream because the Evaporated Milk becomes thick and creamy on it’s own ).
You also do not need lots of butter that most recipes call for. The Evaporated Milk gives you the richness of the Butter flavour without using excess amounts of Butter.
To make the Bechamel Sauce
Heat your Sauce pan on medium heat. I used a Large Sauce pan for this. Add your 2 TBS of Butter then open your can of Evaporated milk and pour this into your saucepan. Add your 1/2 Cup of Milk and your dry ingredients. Then add your 1/4 cup of water. Stir to incorporate then let it heat up to where it starts to bubble about 3-5 mins. As soon as your Bechamel Sauce starts to bubble turn off the heat and move the pan to a cool spot on your stove. Let sauce sit while you get your Pasta Shells stuffed with your Ricotta filling.
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:
2 Cups of Spicy Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
Cost Per Jar $2.99
If you are so inclined you can make your own Pasta Sauce from scratch but if you are pressed for time like me and want to save yourself some time then just purchased your favourite jar at the supermarket or your favourite Gourmet Food Shop.
COOKING THE PASTA SHELLS:
Get a large Pot of water going on the stove. Make sure to add at least 1tsp of salt to the water. Just so your Pasta doesn’t taste too bland. In the meantime,
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degree F. Then prepare your baking pan by brushing it with some olive oil. You do this so that when you place your fresh cooked pasta in the pan it doesn’t stick to the pan while baking. I used a 13 x 13 baking pan normally used for baking Slab cakes. You can even use a Baking Tray if you have one.
Once the water starts to boil, add your pasta shells. Let them cook for only 7 minutes. Not according to packaging. According to the package your suppose to cook the shells for 10-12 minutes. Why do I cook it for less time? I usually like to cook them for a shorter time, then take the pot off the heat and place it in cool spot on the stove. I also drain some of the water out the pot and just leave it there for another 4 minutes. It will be Al dente firm enough for you to stuff with your Ricotta cheese filling. Okay, after those 4 minutes have elapsed, drain your pasta shells of all the water. Then carefully place your pasta shells in the baking pan, about 6-8 at a time then use a teaspoon of the Ricotta Cheese Mixture to fill the shells. If you have children like me then use the kids to help. They will be happy to fill the shells. I let my 11 year old son help me fill them and he wasn’t happy when I told him we were all done. He wanted to keep going, he was so excited to be helping in the kitchen.
Anyway, once all your shells are filled which will be approximately 35 shells. Drizzle 2 TBSP. of Olive Oil in the bottom of the pan, and around the edges so the pasta doesn’t stick to the edges too much during baking. Now, sprinkle 1/4 Cup of grated Parmesan over your pasta shells. The Parmesan Cheese will give it that really cheesy flavour without you having to spend extra money on buying these top cheeses typically used for this kind of dish.
The 2 main cheeses often used are: Mozzarella and Pecorino Romano.
Trust me when I say, you don’t need all that cheese.
You won’t even miss it once you eat this tasty dish using your freshly made Ricotta.
Slowly spread your Bechamel sauce on top of your pasta after adding your grated Parmesan Cheese. Then spread 2 Cups of your Spicy Garlic Pasta Sauce on top of the Bechamel
Sauce then sprinkle another 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top like you see in the picture below:
Already you can tell that this will be a very light and delicate dish.
Not drowning in exorbitant amounts of Cheese.
I love all kinds of Cheeses but I don’t miss the Mozzarella or the Pecorino Romano or any of those rich cheese typically found in Lasagne dishes.
Place your baking pan in the oven and bake for just 20 minutes. Remember you don’t need to bake it for 30-40 minutes like the average Lasagne recipes. Why? First of all your pasta shells are already pre-cooked and your cheese is lighter and very fresh.
What did you notice about this recipe can you guess?
Well, in most fillings for Pasta Shells the recipe most always calls for eggs at least 2-4 eggs. I did not use any eggs in the filling. I did not want to spend the extra money and I did not think it was necessary to use any eggs.
Once you prepare this dish for your family, friends or just simply for yourself you will be amazed and blown away by the flavours of the Ricotta and the fresh basil as well as the richness of the dish without the extra Calories.
Another thing you will notice when eating this lovely dish is that it will taste like you ordered it from a “High End Restaurant” which is great!
If you really want to impress your guests and have them salivating over your Homemade dish then preparing this for your Dinner Party or during the Christmas Holidays will certainly impress them.
Especially when you tell them you just made your own Ricotta Cheese you will definately be the the star of the Show.