Spring Stuffed Alfredo Shells

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Spring Produce = Asparagus

Let’s be honest, spring isn’t here yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find my favorite produce.  The beginning of the seasonal spring offerings are here.  Last week, I found skinny asparagus popping up so as usual I buy what I like.  Then comes the question of what do I cook with what I bought.  Sometimes there’s a plan and other times there is a search of what to make.  This time we had a craving for shells. 

Since I had the right kind of cheese and pasta shells, I decided to incorporate my asparagus into this dish.  I could have thrown some sausage into the mix, but I opted for the ultimate cheesy stuffed shells.  The pan seared asparagus and mushrooms cut through the potential grease of all that cheese.  So the overall result will please any cheese lover while allowing the entire family to chow down on dinner.  sss 2

Cheesy Shells To Combat Winter Chills

Of course, this dish is perfect for the sudden winter storm we are having.  The weather keeps flip flopping and in the midst of heavy snow there is nothing more satisfying than dishing out gooey shells. If you’ve never stuffed shells before, then you want to pinch the sides to keep them open.  However, you will probably still be a tad frustrated.  Those shells are slippery and as the cheese filling gets on your fingers there will be some slips. 

The good part is that the flavors are all there.  So even if this dish is relatively messy, once that pan bakes in the oven everyone will try to sneak more scoops.  This recipe is a good way to use up vegetables, but beware of the moisture levels.  You want the pan seared vegetables to be dry before sprinkling them on top.  

Spring Stuffed Alfredo Shells
Cheesy stuffed shells paired with spring asparagus. A dinner that will please any pasta lover.
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Sauce
  1. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  3. ¼ cup flour
  4. 2 ½ cups whole milk
  5. ½ cup heavy cream
  6. ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  7. ½-1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
Pasta
  1. 1 package jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente
Vegetables
  1. 1 lb mushrooms, roughly chopped
  2. 1 lb asparagus roughly chopped
  3. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Filling
  1. 4 cups cottage cheese
  2. 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  3. 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  6. 1 teaspoon oregano
  7. Salt and Pepper to taste
Sauce Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add minced garlic and cook till fragrant, 30 seconds. Whisk in flour to form a roux and cook for 1 minute while whisking. Whisk in milk and heavy cream and heat until mixture thickens. Add parmesan cheese, whisk. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Filling Instructions
  1. In a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse to combine to a creamy consistency.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Add mushrooms and asparagus and cook over medium heat until mushrooms sweat and dry up.
  3. Take al dente pasta shells, rinsed with cold water, and fill with filling. Place these in a 9x13-inch baking pan with bottom coated with alfredo sauce. They may not all fit in one pan, you may need an 8-inch pan as well.
  4. Sprinkle with pan fried mushrooms and asparagus. Cover with remaining alfredo sauce.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve.
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