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Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells Recipe

Diving into the world of scrumptious pasta dishes, you’ll find Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells recipe to be a delight for your taste buds.

Combining the perfect blend of flavors and textures, this dish is an ideal option for a family dinner or even a festive occasion.

With its beautiful presentation and mouth-watering aroma, you might be surprised at how easy it is to prepare.

The secret to making the best-stuffed shells lies in carefully selecting your ingredients.

Ina Garten’s recipe calls for jumbo pasta shells, creamy ricotta cheese, fresh basil leaves, and ground black pepper, among other delicious components.

Ensuring that you use high-quality and fresh ingredients will elevate your dish to the next level.

Creating the perfect stuffed shells requires you to strike a balance between the firmness of the pasta and the rich, velvety filling.

Following the cooking time instructions and giving attention to detail will lead to the desired tenderness of the pasta shells, making them just right for stuffing.

So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to impress your family and friends with this amazing Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells recipe.

How to Make Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells

Ingredient list

  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 cups marinara sauce (preferably San Marzano tomato sauce)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (fresh is recommended)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil

Step-by-step process

Step 1: Preparing the pasta shells

First, you’ll need to cook the jumbo pasta shells by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.

Make sure to add a few tablespoons of salt to season the water.

Add the pasta shells and cook them for 8-10 minutes or until they’re slightly undercooked.

Once cooked, drain the pasta shells and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Step 2: Making the cheese mixture

In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups of ricotta cheese, a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Season this cheese mixture with a teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Add some chopped fresh parsley and basil to the mixture, making sure to mix well.

Step 3: Preparing the sauce

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

If you like your sauce spicy, you can add a pinch of pepper flakes at this stage.

Add 3 cups marinara sauce to the pan and let it cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You can use San Marzano tomato sauce for the best results.

Season the sauce with a little salt and black pepper according to your taste.

Step 4: Assembling the stuffed shells

Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).

Take a 9×13 inch baking dish and spread about one cup of the prepared sauce at the bottom.

Fill each pasta shell with the cheese mixture using a spoon or a small scoop.

Place the filled shells in the baking dish, making sure they are arranged in a single layer.

Step 5: Baking the dish

Once all the shells are stuffed and placed in the baking dish, pour the remaining sauce over them.

Top the entire dish with more grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Now, your Ina Garten-inspired Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells are ready to be served.

This delicious, vegetarian dinner is perfect for a dinner party or even a cozy family meal. Enjoy!

Side Dishes for Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells

When enjoying a delicious main course like Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells, numerous side dishes can accompany and complement the rich, creamy flavors.

Here are some popular options to enhance your dining experience.

Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is a classic side dish for Italian cuisine, and it’s no exception when it comes to Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells.

Simply brush your favorite bread with a mixture of butter, minced garlic, and fresh herbs, then bake on a baking sheet until golden and crispy.

If you have an air fryer, that’s another great cooking option.

The rich, garlicky flavor and crunchy texture will balance nicely with the tender pasta shells and creamy filling.

Japanese Bread Flakes

For an unconventional twist on a traditional breadcrumb topping, try using Japanese bread flakes, also known as panko.

The light, airy texture of these breadcrumbs adds a delightful crunch to your pasta dish.

Just sprinkle a layer on top of the stuffed shells before baking and enjoy the subtle difference they bring to your meal.

Roasted Asparagus

If you’re looking for a side dish that brings both color and nutrition to your dinner table, roasted asparagus is an excellent choice.

Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread them out on a baking sheet and roast until tender.

The earthy flavors of asparagus will complement the richness of the stuffed shells while helping to lighten the overall meal.

White Wine

A glass of white wine is a sublime addition to any Italian feast.

Opt for a crisp, light wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc to cleanse your palate between bites of the rich, cheesy stuffed shells.

The wine’s acidity will cut through the creaminess of the dish, providing a refreshing contrast.

Béchamel Sauce

While the Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells recipe usually calls for marinara sauce, you can provide a different flavor experience by offering béchamel sauce as an optional side dish.

This white sauce, made with butter, flour, milk, and nutmeg, adds a creamy, luxurious touch to your pasta dinner.

Serve it in a small dish or gravy boat for guests to spoon over their pasta as desired.

With these side dishes at your disposal, your meal featuring Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells will be a delightful and memorable dining experience.

Remember to use fresh herbs, quality ingredients, and a bit of creativity, and your dinner will surely be a success.

Ingredient substitutes

When making Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells, you might not have all the ingredients on hand or want to try a variation with new flavors.

In this section, we will cover a few ingredient substitutes that you can use to suit your preferences or dietary needs.

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

You can substitute regular mozzarella cheese for the fresh version.

The reason for this is that regular mozzarella has a similar texture and melting properties, which work well in the recipe.

Pecorino Romano or Asiago

For Parmesan cheese, consider using Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese.

They both have a firm texture and a strong flavor that can nicely complement the dish.

Cottage Cheese

If you can’t find fresh ricotta, cottage cheese can work as an alternative.

Just be sure to drain any excess liquid and blend it to create a smoother consistency similar to ricotta.

Table Salt

Regular table salt can be used in place of kosher salt.

Adjust the amount you use, as table salt is finer and can taste saltier than kosher salt.

Tomato Sauce

For a different twist on the tomato sauce, try using a jarred marinara or San Marzano tomato sauce mixed with your favorite Italian seasoning blend.

Canned Tomatoes or Fresh Tomatoes

If you can’t find San Marzano tomatoes, you can use regular canned tomatoes or even fresh tomatoes, but be sure to remove the seeds and excess liquid before using them in the sauce.

Dried Basil

You can always replace fresh basil with a smaller amount of dried basil, as dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor.

Oil

If you don’t have olive oil on hand or prefer another option, you can use another neutral-tasting oil like vegetable, canola, or avocado oil.

Pepper Flakes

If you don’t want any heat in your dish, you can simply omit the pepper flakes or replace them with a pinch of paprika.

Feel free to experiment with these ingredient substitutes to create a dish that satisfies your taste buds and dietary requirements.

How to Store Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells

Storing Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells properly is essential to maintain their flavor and texture.

Here are the main storage methods, each followed by a brief description to guide you through the process.

Refrigerate

To store cooked stuffed shells in the refrigerator:

  1. Allow the shells to cool down to room temperature.
  2. Place the shells in an airtight container or a dish covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  3. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Remember to add a little pasta water or marinara sauce when reheating, as this helps to maintain the dish’s moisture and flavor.

Freeze

Freezing is the best way to store Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells for a longer period:

  1. Allow the shells to cool down to room temperature.
  2. Place the shells in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, ensuring it’s tightly sealed to avoid freezer burn.
  4. Freeze the shells for 1-2 hours until they become firm.
  5. Transfer the frozen shells into a freezer-safe airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag.
  6. Label the container or bag with the contents and date.
  7. Store them in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

To reheat frozen stuffed shells, you can either thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and reheat them in the oven or the microwave or bake them directly from frozen at a slightly lower temperature and longer time.

By following these methods, you can safely store and enjoy your Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells at a later time.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when preparing Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells.

Overcooking the pasta shells

When preparing stuffed shells, it is crucial to cook the pasta until it is very al dente.

Overcooking the shells can cause them to become too soft and fall apart when you fill them with the cheese and herb mixture.

To avoid this mistake, keep a close eye on the cooking time and periodically sample a shell to monitor its texture.

Using too much filling

Stuffed shells should have a balance of pasta and filling.

Overstuffing the shells can lead to an overpowering cheese flavor and cause difficulties when sealing the shells.

Try to distribute the ricotta mixture evenly among the shells, avoiding the temptation to add more than needed.

Not seasoning the ricotta mixture.

The ricotta filling is at the heart of the Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells recipe, and it needs to be seasoned well to bring out the best flavor.

Ensure that you are incorporating enough fresh herbs, salt, and pepper into the mixture.

Not using fresh basil leaves.

Using fresh basil leaves can make a significant difference in the overall flavor of your stuffed shells.

Dried basil lacks the vibrant brightness that fresh basil provides, so try to use fresh basil whenever possible.

In summary, remember to cook the shells to a perfect al dente texture, use an appropriate amount of filling, season the ricotta mixture well, and use fresh basil for the best results in your Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells recipe.

barefoot contessa stuffed shells recipe

Barefoot Contessa Stuffed Shells Recipe

Diving into the world of scrumptious pasta dishes, you'll find Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa stuffed shells recipe to be a delight for your taste buds.
Combining the perfect blend of flavors and textures, this dish is an ideal option for a family dinner or even a festive occasion.
With its beautiful presentation and mouth-watering aroma, you might be surprised at how easy it is to prepare.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Equipment
  • 1 large pot
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 cup measure
  • 1 pan
  • 1 baking dish 9x13 inch
Ingredients
  
  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 cups marinara sauce preferably San Marzano tomato sauce
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese fresh
  • mozzarella cheese fresh
  • Parmesan cheese
  • parsley fresh
  • basil fresh
Instructions
 
  • Preparing the pasta shells: First, you'll need to cook the jumbo pasta shells by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.
    Make sure that you add a few tablespoons of salt to season the water.
    Add the pasta shells and cook them for 8-10 minutes or until they're slightly undercooked.
    Once cooked, drain the pasta shells and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Making the cheese mixture: In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups ricotta cheese, a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese.
    Season this cheese mixture with a teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
    Add some chopped fresh parsley and basil to the mixture, making sure to mix well.
  • Preparing the sauce: Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
    If you like your sauce spicy, you can add a pinch of pepper flakes at this stage.
    Add 3 cups marinara sauce to the pan and let it cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    You can use San Marzano tomato sauce for the best results.
    Season the sauce with a little salt and black pepper according to your taste.
  • Assembling the stuffed shells: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
    Take a 9x13 inch baking dish and spread about one cup of the prepared sauce at the bottom.
    Fill each pasta shell with the cheese mixture, using a spoon or a small scoop.
    Place the filled shells in the baking dish, making sure they are arranged in a single layer.
  • Baking the dish: Once all the shells are stuffed and placed in the baking dish, pour the remaining sauce over them.
    Top the entire dish with more grated Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
    Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.
    Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

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