Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

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My parents recently came back from a trip to Italy and their stories and pictures made me extremely jealous. My mom's favorite dish there was pasta that they cooked and put into a hollowed-out Parmesan wheel, and then tossed the pasta while scraping the edges of the wheel to add some Parmesan flavor. Sounds like a winner in my book!
Since hearing stories about all their amazing meals, I decided I wanted to make a pasta dish of my own. I don't have a spare hallowed-out Parmesan wheel lying around, so I decided to make a healthier version of stuffed shells instead. Using ground turkey in place of beef cuts down on a lot of extra fat, and I also used low-fat cheeses to lower the calorie content. They take some time, but the recipe makes a ton of shells (I made half and froze half for later) and the creamy filling in the shells with chunks of artichoke hearts is perfectly seasoned. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 1 (12-oz.) box jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1 lb. ground turkey 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus 1/2 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 tsp.
  • 1 (8 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped 
  • 1 (15-oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese 
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus 1 tbsp. for garnish 
  • 5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows 
  • 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta. 

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and place in a large glass mixing bowl and let cool. While allowing the turkey mixture to cool, begin Arrabbiata Sauce.

Arrabbiata Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 4 oz. sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce 
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use. 

After you are finished making the Arrabbiata sauce: In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tbsp. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish and repeat with remaining shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month. To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen).

Source: Adapted from Food Network

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