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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lost and Found

As I have mentioned in the past, my basement freezer is like a black hole.  Things go in and they are never seen again.  Maybe that makes it more like the Bermuda Triangle.  I'm not sure.  The point is that I very carefully put leftovers in containers or Food Saver bags, pop them in the freezer, and they are never seen again.

Every once in a while I get brave.   I don my winter coat and snow shoveling gloves and venture down into the basement for a freezer clean out and reorganization.  It is just amazing what I unearth as I peel away the layers of what I thought were things we were going to eat again.

I have the digress here to say that we are not really a leftover eating family.  I try to make just what we are going to eat at one meal, but occasionally we end up left with not quite another meal's worth.  Anyway, because it's often only enough for one or two people, sometimes I'll eat it for lunch the next day.  But, otherwise, it's into the freezer with it.

So, back to the freezer.   I found a quart container of bolognese sauce, and I felt like I had hit pay dirt.  I could actually do something with this, after I thawed it out of the brick of red sauce it had become.  Now all I needed was some bolognese inspiration.

As you may know, Border's Books is in bankruptcy.  Although I think this is sad, the fact that they are closing their store right near my house presented a great opportunity.  I had stopped in on Monday and picked up a bunch of cookbooks for 20% off of their usual discount.  Among those books was Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners.  There were oodles of recipes that sounded great, but one especially nice one was the recipe for stuffed shells with, you guessed it, bolognese sauce!  Bingo!

I made the shells, and they have to rate as some of the best I have ever tasted.  Peel included a recipe for bolognese, which I didn't try.  Instead I used mine, made from Ina's Weeknight Bolognese (blog dated 11/8/10).  I think this recipe would even be good with marinara, if you happened to have some of that laying around.

So it was a win-win for me.  I  got to use up the Bolognese sauce, and I found a great new recipe for stuffed shells.

Recipe:  Stuffed Shells with Bolognese Sauce
(New Classic Family Dinners, 2009)


1/2 pound jumbo shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in very small dice
3 ounces Gruyere cheese, cut in very small dice
1 2/3 cups Bolognese sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt and add the shells.  Cook 10-12 minutes, until just al dente.  Drain and toss gently with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, garlic, parsley, thyme, cream, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

In another bowl, toss together the mozzarella and the Gruyere.

Preheat the oven to 400.  Oil a 2-quart baking dish with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Fill the shells with approximately 1 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture, a heaped teaspoon of the Bolognese sauce, and a generous pinch of the cheese mixture.  Place the shells in the baking dish as you fill them, packing them in tightly.

Cover the dish tightly with oiled foil and place in the preheated oven.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and sprinkle on the Parmesan.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the mixture is bubbling.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

(Adapted from Mark Peel, New Classic Family Dinners, 2009)


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