Uncle Terry’s Stuffed Shells With Cheese, Bacon, and Cream

Updated on March 4, 2020
SunnyKrissa profile image

KC is a self-taught cook with 22 years of experience, and a single mom. She loves sharing her recipes and cooking for family and friends.

Uncle Terry's stuffed shells.
Uncle Terry's stuffed shells.

My Uncle Terry Was an Excellent Cook

I’m not a big fan of long, blog-style recipes, so I’ll keep this short.

My great-uncle was an amazing person and an excellent cook. Unfortunately, not everyone in my family was a good cook, so I learned a lot of my skills by myself. Terry was one of the few people in my family who taught me anything about cooking, and this recipe was one of my favorites. I’m so glad he shared it with me. Terry passed away a while ago, and I wanted to share a little piece of him with the world. I hope you like it!

Note: I have included some detailed notes about some of the instructions, which are listed directly below the instructions. The note numbers correspond to the instruction numbers.

Cook Time

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 45 min
Yields: Serves 6 to 9 people (2 to 3 shells per person)

Ingredients

  • 18 jumbo pasta shells, dry

For the filling:

  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta
  • 2 to 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 (9- or 10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, cooked
  • 1/2 pound (about 5 to 6 slices) bacon, cooked (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • About 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Topping:

  • About 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Reserved bacon, cooked, crumbled (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot with water to boil on high. Cover until boiling, then generously salt the water. Do NOT add any kind of oil to the water. Once the water has returned to a rolling boil, add shells and cook, uncovered, according to package.
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil before cooking the shells, cook spinach and bacon according to their packages and your preferred method.
  3. When the pasta is done boiling, drain it and set aside. You don’t need to reserve any pasta water.
  4. Once the spinach is cooked, drain it and set it aside to cool. In a medium to large mixing bowl, add the ricotta and the eggs and mix well. Once combined, take a rubber spatula, and use it to flatten and smooth the mixture.
  5. Season the filling now so you can see it. First season with the nutmeg, lightly dusting the surface of the mixture. Next, season it with the salt and pepper to taste. Mix to incorporate the seasoning evenly in the mixture.
  6. Add in the mozzarella or Italian blend cheese, and mix well. Then add the spinach and combine. The spinach can be a little warm but not so hot that it cooks the eggs. If you are using bacon, crumble it well. You can add it to the mixture and combine, just top the shells with it, or put some in the mixture and reserve some to top the shells.
  7. Line up the shells, filling mixture, and a casserole or baking dish or pan. Take one shell out at a time. Be careful to peel it away from the other shells if any of them stick. If some do split or break apart, you can still sort of wrap the shell around the filling.
  8. Hold the shell in your hand, and use a tablespoon, your other hand, or another utensil to carefully scoop the filling into the shell. You may need to hold the shell open while stuffing. Once you have stuffed the shell to the point that the filling is slightly overstuffed, place it in the pan, and try to lean it against the edge in a corner.
  9. Repeat step 8, carefully propping the next shell against the first, forming a row; then begin another until all of the shells are filled.
  10. Once you have stuffed all of the shells, if you have any leftover filling, try to find shells that look like they could hold a little more and divide the remaining filling between them.
  11. When all of the filling is used, set the shells aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F while preparing the sauce.
  12. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter on medium-low until completely melted. Mince the garlic (or use pre-minced) and add it to the pan; you may need to lower the heat even more. Sauté the garlic briefly, about 1 minute or less. You don’t want to brown the butter or the garlic.
  13. Add the lemon juice. You can put it on medium or medium-low for the juice. After adding the juice, just briefly allow it to steam, about 1 minute.
  14. Start incorporating the cream slowly while whisking. Once all of the cream has been added, whisk until the ingredients are completely incorporated. Turn the heat up to medium or medium high, and allow the sauce to come to a boil but not boil over. Reduce heat to medium-low or low, and allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes. Continue whisking occasionally to prevent burning, or to fix separating. Then remove from heat.
  15. Carefully pour the sauce over the shells, making sure each shell is mostly covered in sauce. Top with the Parmesan and the bacon if you chose to use it as a topping.
  16. Cover the pan with aluminum foil or a casserole lid. Place on the middle rack and cook for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling. Remove the lid or foil and allow to brown for 5 to 15 minutes, or you may briefly broil if desired.
  17. Remove pan from oven and allow about 5 minutes to cool. Serve immediately. You may spoon sauce over them if desired. Serve alone or with a light salad only.

Notes and Tips About Instructions

Note numbers refer to instruction numbers above.

  1. Cooking the pasta: al dente is recommended. You want the pasta to hold its shape well as the filling with be generously stuffed into the shells, but you don’t want to undercook it either and end up with tough pasta after baking.
  2. You may substitute the frozen spinach with fresh, but it must be boiled as well. The bacon is optional; it’s nice to have once and a while, but without it, the shells are still very rich. It's also a good meatless meal without the bacon. I like to cook my frozen spinach and bacon in the microwave, so if you choose this option, cook the spinach first.
  3. I prefer to rinse my shells and separate them before they cool so they don’t stick. Rinsing them is optional; I just find it prevents any exposed pasta from being tough, and it helps to separate the shells easily.
  4. When it comes to the eggs, my uncle always said you observe the mixture visually to see how many eggs to use, but I usually prefer 2 eggs. Using 3 will make a firmer mixture.
  5. (no notes)
  6. (no notes)
  7. I used a 13x9-inch casserole pan, but sometimes there’s a little extra space so you may choose a smaller pan. The shells should fit in the pan snugly, but not overlapping or squishing the other shells. If there is extra space, try to space the shells out so none of them are laying out and splitting or spilling the filling out if you can. You may use non-stick spray if you like, but a non-stick dish or pan is better. This dish is so rich that there will be excess fats in the pan after cooking, so keep this in mind.
  8. (no notes)
  9. If you find it difficult to fill them without ripping them or you are having trouble holding them, fill them slightly and put them in the pan, and you can finish filling them after you get all of the shells in the pan and they have some support.
  10. If any of your shells ripped at any point and they have to be wrapped, try to put these in the middle of the rows/the pan, so that they can be supported by the other shells.
  11. (no notes)
  12. (no notes)
  13. You want enough to still be able to smell the lemon after it lightly steams. You may add less than 1/4 cup and add more as needed. You may add less or more than 1/4 cup in total, just not so much that the smell is overwhelming or the mixture looks too watery.
  14. (no notes)
  15. (no notes)
  16. (no notes)
  17. I recommend a serving of two shells, but three shells is the maximum I would recommend. Trust me when I say that even the heartiest appetites can’t handle too many of these. These shells are so rich, they are not meant to be eaten in large quantities, and doing so will make you sick. I would recommend most children only have one or a half of one if they don’t have a big appetite.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 216 oz (2 shells)
Calories 481
Calories from Fat279
% Daily Value *
Fat 31 g48%
Saturated fat 17 g85%
Unsaturated fat 2 g
Carbohydrates 22 g7%
Sugar 2 g
Fiber 3 g12%
Protein 31 g62%
Cholesterol 136 mg45%
Sodium 844 mg35%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Nutritional Facts Information

Please note the nutritional facts are based on the recipe with 2 eggs, 10 ounces of spinach, 3 cloves of garlic, and with the bacon.

What did you think of this recipe?

5 stars from 1 rating of Uncle Terry’s Stuffed Shells

Don’t Leave Yet!

If you have any questions, or if you made this recipe, let me know what you think in the comments below!

© 2019 KC Jones

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • SunnyKrissa profile imageAUTHOR

      KC Jones 

      8 months ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

      Thanks Rida! It is a real pain when they rip and it used to frustrate me until no end, until I stumbled on a tip that said cold rinsing pasta for baking, and it's made such a difference.

    • PDXfoodfan profile image

      Rida Verduax 

      8 months ago from Seattle

      With the cold weather setting in over here in Oregon I have been thinking about making stuffed shells! I like your tip about rinsing them with cold water to help prevent them from sticking together, stuffed shells just aren't the same when they tear apart.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)