Ok recipe combo time. We have discussed how to steam a deliciously juicy chicken before. This time it was paired with the mildly famous pesto-ricotta stuffed shells with marinara sauce. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! So delicious! Let's start with the white wine marinara recipe:
1 big (24oz) can of whole steamed tomatoes
1 small (8oz) can of tomato paste
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves (I use more but I looooove garlic, treat 3 as a starting point)
3/4 cup white wine (preferably something sweet but not too sweet, thinking Chenin Blanc)
2tbspn extra virgin olive oil
2tspn thyme (I used lemon thyme because I have a small plant at home)
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
I also added a few sweet 100 tomatoes since my plant was full of these and I didn't want them to go to waste. It helps if you prefer a chunkier sauce, which does give a very nice homemade, rusty feel to the meal.
1. Heat up your olive oil on a pan on medium heat.
2. Once the oil is hot add your onions and cook them carefully until translucent.
3. Add the garlic and cook until ready. (ready is usually once you get that yummy garlic aroma) (if using dried herbs add them now)
4. Add the steamed tomatoes and stir until incorporated. (don't worry, they will start to disintegrate as they cook)
5. Add the tomato paste and stir.
6. Add the white wine. (If you had fresh herbs add them now)
7. Add salt and pepper.
8. Cook on a simmer for at least 20 minutes.
Note: Cooking longer will produce a more robust bodied sauce. Just make sure you add liquid as you go so that you don't end up with everything drying up. It is possible to add either a can of tomato sauce or more steamed tomatoes or just liquid (wine or water) as you go.
Ok, so I haven't been lucky with store bought pesto. One day while I was concocting this recipe I decided my expertise in the field of pesto making was appropriate (I had none) to come up with a recipe on my own so I went to google for help. Upon using the trusty keyphrase of 'best ever' along with the searching term of the day 'pesto' I came up upon a wonderful result: How to make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother.
Luckily I have a master chopper at my disposal and he does all these chopping whenever this recipe is made. Which is very efficient if I may add because it frees me to start everything else :). If you follow the recipe linked you will end up with something roughly half the size of this:
I like Barilla pasta because it is easy to find at your local store and decent. Although my next attempt will include trying to make my own ricotta I am not quite sure when will it be time to attempt my own shells. Making fettuccine is one thing, shells a whole other art!
Follow the instructions on the box and make your pasta. Shock it with some cold water so it doesn't overcook (remember this goes in the over later as well!). While it sits, mix the ricotta with the pesto. Your ratio may vary depending on how much cheese:pesto you prefer but I went with 1:1 or 8oz packages of ricotta for my doubled pesto recipe.
Now is time to stuff the shells. Handle them with care as they do break easily. You want to put enough filling so that you can see the inside of the shell just a little. An understuffed shell looks sad but an overstuffed one might break and could be hard to serve later on without it breaking everyone and making for ugly presentation.
Put them all on a baking tray (or 2 depending on how many you made). Cover them with your delicious marinara sauce which will be ready by now. If you are a cheese lover like me, buy some fresh mozzarella and place some slices of it on top prior to baking. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 20-30 or until the cheese on top has melted and is bubbling.
If you are making some garlic bread (I'll post my recipe some time here) bake it now as well. Serve this with some nice full bodied red wine (we tried a blend we curiously acquired at the BevMo 5 cent sale) and enjoy!