Stuffed Shells and Cajun Shrimp

These late September mornings and evenings here in Boulder are refreshingly brisk, and promise all things cozy and comfy are on the horizon. It happens around this time every year… I start craving my favorite comfort foods. And as a midwestern farm girl, my comforts are usually equally high in calories and flavor. If you’re looking for a low-fat, low calorie dinner, this is not it.

I crafted this recipe on a whim last winter when I was craving something creamy and cheesy and warm. The melty, creamy cheese is perfectly accented with a bit of cajun spice in the shrimp and the fresh, vibrant green broccoli keeps it from getting too heavy.

06 Serve

I start by steaming fresh broccoli and boiling my large shells until they’re cooked al dente… you want them to still have a bit of bite.

01 Steam Broccoli

Once the shells are stuffed with the cheesy filling, they are arranged in casserole dishes with the steamed broccoli before being smothered with a cream sauce.

03 Pour Sauce

While the shells and broccoli bake a bit more in the oven, the shrimp is sautéed to a lovely pink and placed atop the bubbly casserole dishes before serving.

07 Serve

A crusty garlic bread makes the perfect side.

06-serve.jpg


Ingredients

Broccoli

  • Florets of 1 large head of broccoli

Stuffed Shells

  • 12 large shell pasta (amount varies, depending on size)
  • 1/2 C Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/2 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Cream Sauce

  • 1 TBSP Butter
  • 1 C Heavy Cream
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1/4 C Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Cajun Shrimp

  • 1/2 lb Peeled and Deveined Shrimp
  • 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Once water is boiling, lightly salt the water and add pasta. Cook until al dente. When pasta is done, drain the water and gently toss pasta in a drizzle of olive oil so they don’t stick to one another.
  3. Meanwhile, steam broccoli until tender. Once broccoli is cooked, submerge in ice water for a few seconds to stop the cooking and preserve the bright green color. Set aside.
  4. While the pasta and broccoli are cooking, make the cheese filling. Start by mixing the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, cayenne, and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Then, fold in the shredded mozzarella. Set aside until pasta is done.
  5. Using a spoon, gently fill the cooked pasta shells with the cheese filling. Arrange the filled shells in a casserole dish with the broccoli.
  6. For the cream sauce, start by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the cream, stirring frequently. As the cream heats up, season it with salt and pepper. Stir in the parmesan cheese, stirring continuously until the cheese has melted. Pour the sauce over the shells and broccoli.
  7. Bake the shells and broccoli for 15 – 20 minutes… until the sauce is bubbly.
  8. With 10 minutes left on the timer, start on the shrimp. Begin by tossing the shrimp with cajun seasoning until well coated. Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to hot pan in a single layer and cook for 2 minutes. Flip each shrimp over and cook on this side for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  9. Upon removing the casserole dish from the oven, top with cooked shrimp and serve.

 

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