October 12, 2008 at 4:20 pm 5 comments

Stuffed shells up close

I’m really not a fan of Emeril Lagasse and his “bam!” tactics on the Food Network.  Generally I’ve found him to be a bit too much of a showman and not enough of a food professional.  But I may just have to eat my own words after this recipe, one of his from his show Emeril Live


I wasn’t planning on using an Emeril recipe.  However, I had the notion of stuffing some pasta shells with eggplant and, as usual, when I come up with a concept I’m not quite sure about, I goggled the idea.  Up popped this recipe, which wasn’t all that exciting until I started reading the ingredients for the sauce.  Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce is phenomenal, folks.  Can I get a “Bam!” up in here?   And the Eggplant Stuffed Shells were pretty darn good too.

Stuffing the shells

Now, I have to be honest about one thing with you.  This recipe has a long list of ingredients and is pretty time consuming.  But it’s so worth it!   Or, just make the sauce and pour it over any ol’ pasta for a heavenly shortcut.  It’s really the sauce that makes this dish spectacular.   Unfortunately tomato season is fast dwindling so this should go right to the top of your bookmarks!

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Eggplant-Stuffed Shells with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce
Adapted from Emeril Live

Stuffed Shells

1 T. olive oil
1 package of meatless “crumbles” or sausage with casing removed
1 C. minced onion
5 C. diced eggplant, skins left on (about 1 large or several small eggplants)
1 1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. minced garlic
12 oz. part skim ricotta cheese 
1/4 t. sugar

1/2 of a 12-ounce package jumbo pasta shells (about 20 shells)

Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

3 lb. fresh heirloom tomatoes
2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 T. olive oil
1 C. minced onion
1 T. minced garlic
3 C. heavy cream
dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

½ C. shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
½ C. parmesan cheese

To make the stuffing:
In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon oil over medium-high heat and sauté the meatless crumbles (or sausage) until golden browns, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and the eggplant, season with salt and cayenne pepper, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly caramelized and very soft. Add the minced garlic and stir for another minute.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.  When the mixture has stopped steaming, stir in the ricotta and sugar. Stir to combine well.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells until just al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water and drain again. Stuff the pasta shells with the eggplant mixture and arrange stuffed side up in a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.    If prepping a day ahead, you would stop here and store covered tightly in the refrigerator. 

Eggplant Stuffed Shells

To make the sauce: 
Begin by bringing a large kettle of water up to a boil.  Turn off the heat and put the whole fresh tomatoes into the hot water and let stand for 2 minutes.  Drain off hot water and cover tomatoes with cold water.  When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to remove the cores and then slip off the skins.  Roughly chop the parboiled tomatoes and return to the kettle.  Smash with a potato masher and bring to a rapid boil for five minutes.  Reduce heat to let the tomatoes simmer until they begin to thicken, about 20 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the remaining chopped onions until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the reduced tomatoes.  Stir in the salt, sugar and cayenne pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Cook until the sauce is reduced in volume by about a thrid, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the chopped basil to the sauce and pour the sauce over the stuffed shells.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is lightly browned in spots and bubbly around the edges, about 15-20 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

(serves 6-8 )

Stuffed shells with Tomato basil cream sauce

Entry filed under: Recipes, Veggies w/ Protein. Tags: , , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Andrea  |  October 13, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Those crazies on the food network can surprise you sometimes. As usual, your pictures are beautiful, and I may just put this sauce on the top of my list, although I’ll have to wait until I have more than just myself to feed with 3 cups of cream! No wonder it’s so good!

  • 2. Jennie  |  October 14, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Andrea – Yes, the cream is a bit indulgent, but you could always make a half batch and pretend it’s “reduced fat”… 😉

  • 3. Andrea  |  October 14, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Ha ha, I like how you think. You are clearly a woman after my own heart!

  • 4. Jesse  |  October 14, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Yeah – Emeril definitely has a few keeper recipes. I’ve only caught myself watching the show a few times, to kind of figure out the charm of the “BAM” (still am not sure I get it). I’ve discovered some good ideas that way. And this is for sure a keeper. I’m book marking right now!

  • 5. Kevin  |  October 18, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Those eggplant stuffed shells look good and sound great!


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