Creamy Garlic + Broccoli Stuffed Shells
Why we love it:
- 1 pound Broccoli
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided, more to taste)
- 1⁄2 pound Shells Pasta (large sized - about ½ a box fills a 13 x 9 casserole dish and serves 4)
- 1 cup Ricotta Cheese
- 2 cups Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)
- 11⁄2 cups Mozzarella (shredded)
- 5 cloves Garlic (divided)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (or more to taste)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Nutmeg (freshly grated)
- 1 Lemon (zest)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1 Shallot
- 11⁄2 cups Heavy Cream
- 11⁄4 cups Whole Milk
1. BRING A LARGE POT OF WATER TO BOIL
2. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400 DEGREES
Meanwhile, chop the broccoli florets and stems into small pieces. Place in a smaller pot and cover just to the top of the broccoli with water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes or until broccoli is quite tender and can be mashed with a fork. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Cook pasta shells according to package instructions, just until al dente. Drain and lay shells out on a large baking sheet. Return the pot to the stove for making the sauce.
Mash broccoli in the bowl. Add all of the ricotta and about ½ of the parmesan and mozzarella (rough estimate is fine). Mince the garlic and add ½ of it. Add the red pepper flakes and fresh nutmeg, if using, and the lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In the empty pasta pot, melt the butter. Mince the shallot and add it along with the remaining garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the cream and milk; set the heat to medium and slowly bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 3 - 4 minutes until slightly thickened, then remove from heat and stir in the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish and set the rest aside.
Use a Tablespoon to fill each shell generously with filling then set it down in the baking dish. Repeat until all are filled. Pour the rest of the sauce over top, allowing it to drip into the shells and down the sides too.
Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Spoon shells onto plates and serve. Leftovers are delicious when reheated in the oven or microwave (the stuffed shells and broccoli filling freeze beautifully but this cream sauce doesn’t. So if you freeze some, make the cream sauce later or serve this filling with marinara sauce).