I have always loved stuffed shells, and I remember my mom making them a lot. When I started getting in to cooking in college, I looked for her recipe but I was never able to find it. I began searching for a recipe that I thought I would like. I had one that I used for a while, but I always felt that there was something missing and couldn’t quite figure out what it was. They just weren’t flavorful enough for me. Then, a few months ago, this recipe was posted on a cooking message board I read. I knew I had to try it, and now that old recipe has been kicked to the curb. I still have a couple other types of shells I want to try, but these are definitely getting added to our permanent recipe collection.

These shells really have a wonderful combination of flavors. I used the leftover spinach from the shells to make a spinach salad. I cut some grape tomatoes in half, tossed them in, and dressed with a light olive oil vinagrette dressing. Delicious! Below is the recipe with a few of my own modifications. No major changes, I just added an egg to the filling to give it a better texture and reduced the amount of cream in the sauce.

Crab and Cheese Stuffed Shells
25-30 jumbo pasta shells
1 can lump crab meat (6-8 oz.)
10 oz. ricotta cheese
1 egg
4 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped or 1 tsp. dried
¾ cup half and half
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
shredded mozzarella cheese for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375° F. In a large bowl, mix together crab meat, ricotta cheese, egg, garlic, Parmesan, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Prepare the pasta according to the box directions until al dente. Rinse shells with cold water and drain well.

Mix the spinach and basil leaves into the cheese mixture. Gently fill each shell with the crab/cheese/spinach mixture. Place shells (open side up) in a baking dish.

In a bowl, stir together the half and half, remaining Parmesan, spinach and garlic. Pour sauce over the top of the shells and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until heated through and bubbly.