By Michele L.
Remember in the post about Shepard’s pie where I said that it had become the new front runner for my best recipe? This was the previous winner. For years is has been my favorite dish to make. It sounds very high fancy, but it’s actually super easy. Why, you ask? Because of one special ingredient: crab! Crab stuffed shells are sure to please every time.
When I was little, my Aunt Doris was the cook in the family. My favorite meal of hers? Stuffed shells. Stuffed shell night was a special occasion in and of itself. She cooked her tomato sauce allll day. I…don’t do that. This recipe actually has one of my favorite shortcuts: easy creamy tomato sauce. Simply mix your favorite jarred tomato sauce with a little cream, a little butter, and presto! So simple, and the creaminess goes great with all the gooey cheesiness. I choose a tomato sauce with garlic and green pepper. The sweetness of the cooked pepper goes great with the sweetness of the crab.
Crab is hands down one of my favorite ingredients to work with. It elevates any dish to something high-end, but it requires no extra effort. It’s actually best to do as little as possible to crab: it shines on its own. This recipe is a great way to stretch a higher priced ingredient. Mixing it with the cheese in the shell stuffing spreads it out enough so that a small amount can feed 4 or 6! Because of this, I choose to use the best quality available: jumbo lump. I buy the refrigerated canned product. As far as cans go the quality is great.
From there, the dish is mostly about assembly. Boil the shells, mix together the filling, fill the shells, cover it in sauce and cheese and bake until brown and bubbly. The whole thing comes together in 15 minutes and can be on the table in less than an hour and a half.
I’ve made this for friends. I’ve made this for family. I once made this for a date and I’m pretty sure that’s what won him over. I love looking like a rock star when I cook, and this recipe is a guaranteed way to impress whoever you’re feeding.
Crab Stuffed Shells
1 box Jumbo Shell Pasta
1 24 oz jar Pasta Sauce
1 C Cream
1/4 C Butter, melted
2 C Ricotta Cheese
3/4 C Parmesan Cheese
2 tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped fine
1.5 tbsp Garlic Salt
1 C Lump Crab Meat
2 1/2 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook shells according to package directions minus 2 minutes. (You want it to be pliable but still chewy) Drain shells and allow to cool until they’re comfortable to hold in your hands. **Pro tip – when cooking pasta you want the water to be salty like the ocean**
- Pour 1 C pasta sauce out of jar. (Reserve for another use) Add cream and butter to jar and shake until combined. Spread half of the sauce in the bottom of a greased casserole dish.
- Mix together ricotta, 1/2 C parmesan, garlic salt, and egg until combined. Gently fold in crab meat.
- Stuff shells with 1-1 1/2 tbsp of cheese mixture.
- Place shells in casserole over sauce, Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and remaining parmesan. Cover with foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered until cheese is brown and pasta is cooked through. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Top with extra parmesan and basil if desired.