Love At First Bite
Chances are if a dish features the bright, citrusy taste of lemon, I'm going to crave it. That certainly holds true with this Italian-inspired dish which I adapted after mouth-watering over a post I saw from social media sensation The Pasta Queen.
This dish can be assembled and stored a few hours ahead of baking and makes a memorable presentation for entertaining or for special meals. Packed with three different kinds of cheese, fresh lemon juice, and bathed in heavy cream - this lemon ricotta pasta bake will likely have you craving another serving!
My family refers to this simply as "Girasole Bake," because once arranged, the filled shells surprisingly resembled a sunflower ("girasole" is Italian for sunflower). 🌻🌻🌻
Time To Prepare:
About 75 minutes
The proportions below are enough to yield about 25 stuffed shells. The entire box of pasta shells will have about 45-50, depending on the brand. I went ahead and prepared the entire box at once to allow for spoilage and snacking. I used the extra shells in a homemade soup, which was delicious.
This lemon pasta pairs remarkably well with garlic-rubbed artisan bread (shown below) and a fresh salad or insalata caprese.
For The Stuffed Shells:
12 Ounce Box | Large Pasta Shells 16 Ounces | Ricotta
1 Cup | Pecorino Romano, Shredded
1 | Lemon, Juiced And Zested
For The Sauce: 1 | Lemon, Juiced And Zested
5 Cloves | Fresh Garlic, Minced 3 Tablespoons | Butter 2-3 Tablespoons | Fresh Italian Parsley, Chopped 1 Cup | Heavy Cream 1 Cup | Parmigiano Reggiano, Shredded
To Serve: Optional, And Recommended
More Cheese and Parsley
Sprinkling Of Fresh Thyme or Oregano, Chopped
Sprinkling Of Maldon Flake Salt
What To Do:
1. In a medium pot on medium-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add a palm-full of salt and the pasta and boil for about 11 minutes-a - little bit harder than al dente. Let the pasta cool enough to handle it. Al dente means "to the tooth" in Italian, which means you want the pasta to be a bit firm still when bitten. No mushy pasta here! The very al dente pasta will finish during the oven baking.
2. In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, pecorino romano, the lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well.
3. Fill the al dente cooked pasta shells with a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture and set aside. Continue until you are either out of shells or out of cheese mixture. 4. To make the sauce, put the butter and the garlic in a medium pan or skillet and sauté until fragrant. Add the heavy cream, parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until smooth and thickened.
5. Place a ladle of the cream sauce in the bottom of a 10-inch iron skillet (or baking dish if a skillet is not available).
6. Arrange the stuffed shells in the skillet. I start on the outer edge of the skillet and place the shells pointing to the middle. Continue for 3-4 rows until you reach the center (or you're out of shells).
7. Pour the rest of the white sauce over the shells and top with more Parmigiano- Reggiano. You can go crazy here if you want to and add both Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano to the top.
8. When you're ready to bake the pasta, preheat your oven to 380°F.
9. Bake at 380°F for about 25 minutes until the cheese is beginning to brown and the sauce is nice and bubbly.
10. Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Garnish with additional cheese and parsley and other herbs (if preferred).
Yield: Enough lemon ricotta shells to delight about 4-6 lucky folks. Refrigerate leftovers but this dish is best enjoyed fresh.
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Joe Paul Reider
Home Style Austin Founder Austin Realtor® Keller Williams Realty
Email: JoePaul@KW.com Mobile: 512-222-3302 Web: JoePaulReider.KW.com