While meandering up and down the aisles at the grocery store the other day - something, as you can well imagine, I do with significant frequency! - I saw that small pasta shells were on sale: $1 for a one-pound box.
Well, I'm a pretty frugal girl. I had to bring some home with me.
Now, I love stuffed pasta shells, filled with rich ricotta cheese and smothered in a lively tomato sauce. But as much as I love to bake from scratch, shell peas, or pit cherries, I don't want to fuss over shoving spoonfuls of the cheese into a giant pasta shell that's modestly trying to keep itself closed. Too much bother. And I don't want to wait for my dinner while it bakes, either, especially when I'm really hungry after a long day of work and errands.
So it occurred to me that I could cook up these smaller shells, top them with the sauce, and just plop a dollop of cheese on top - all the same great flavors, none of the tedious work!
The zesty sauce enhanced the sweetness of the cheese, and the creaminess of the cheese complemented the warmth of the sauce. It was a perfect easy dinner that seemed far more luxurious than its simplicity would normally offer ....
Deconstructed Un-Stuffed Shells
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- generous pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 6 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 pound pasta shells, prepared according to package directions
- 1/3 cup Ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup Cottage cheese
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
Place the prepared shells onto a serving platter, and spoon the sauce over them. Stir together the Ricotta cheese and Cottage cheese; place a dollop onto the center of the sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 generously.