This recipe was billed as a make ahead dish. You are supposed to prepare everything until it's ready to bake and then wrap it well and store it in the freezer. It's ready to bake when you are!
The idea appealed to me because I like to have meals ready for busy work nights. But the thing that got me to make this recipe is the ingredients... Artichokes, ground turkey breast and ricotta cheese. Yum, yum and more yum!
Plus it's really a healthy recipe. The artichokes provide the vegetable, the turkey breast is so lean and is packed with protein, the tomato sauce is a great source of lycopene and the pasta provides the carbs, which by the way are not all that bad for you. (As long as you eat them in moderation). Ok, I know the cheese is fattening, but it is also loaded with protein and I use the low fat version to keep things light.
I did change the recipe slightly, as noted and I substituted homemade marinara for the arrabbiata sauce. I also split the recipe between two pans; I baked one and froze the other.
Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup) (I used shallots)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey (I only used 1/2 pound)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped (I cooked mine according to package directions before chopping)
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (I used Pecorino Romano)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (I used 3 egg whites)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 2 Tlbs. of a combination of fresh Basil, Thyme and Rosemary )
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used 1/4 cup)
5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows (I used homemade Marinara sauce)
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces) (I only used about 1/2 - 3/4 cup low-fat mozzarella)
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 4 to 5 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 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon 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 let cool.
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 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. 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.)
Note: If you don't like your pasta to get dry around the edges cover with foil until the last 5 minutes of cooking.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauceHeat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 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.
Yield: approximately 6 cups