I feel like I need a microphone to say something like: are you ready to rumble?????? This is by far the most popular of Nonna’s recipes and considering all of her recipes are amazing, this one is a doozy. When my parents divorced, my cousin’s on the other side bemoaned the lack of shells at holidays for a few years before I told my nonna and she started making them for the boys.
Now when I show up for Thanksgiving, they open the door just enough so they can say, “Did you bring the shells?” before they laugh and let me. These babies are legendary. If she ever entered a contest, she would enter these and she would win. Watch out, Mario Batali (also, Mario, why do you where crocs?).
What’s great about Nonna’s Shells is that you can freeze them. Freeze them! And they still taste just as good when you take them out. I mean, what would your rather receive if for some reason people were providing you meals (maybe you just had a baby, maybe you lost someone)–a casserole or these babies? I mean, come on.
What I love about Nonna, besides the million of other things, is she willingly shares her recipes. There is no secret sauce. Just like she cooks with generosity, she shares her recipes as well. I love it and her.
1lb. box of jumbo shells
Cooked by the directions on box
Drain and rinse with cold water, then drain again (It makes them easier to handle)
In a medium to large pot, brown, 1 1/2 lbs of ground round meat, 1/2 lb. of ground pork or 1/2 lb. of veal
Do not overly cook meat
Add 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
Add 2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Add chopped parsley (small handful)
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove pot from stove
Add 2 or 3 slices of soaked bread (squeeze moisture from bread)
Add 2 eggs, mixed well
Add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Add 1 10 oz pkg of chopped spinach (cooked and drained; use a fork to cut the spinach into smaller bits)
Add a sprinkle a little nutmeg (to taste)
Stir mixture thoroughly
Put whatever type of sauce you have made on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pyrex pan
Fill each shell with meat filling and line shells in pan
Add more sauce to the top of the shells, and top off with additional parmesan cheese
Cover with aluminum foil
Cook 30 to 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven
If You Are Freezing Them
Do not put them in the oven
Wrap entire pan (top and bottom) with aluminum foil
Remove from the freezer before you are ready to eat with enough time to thaw
Let them thaw naturally on kitchen counter
Then cook 30 to 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven
I will warn you. These are easy to make…but they will not taste as good as Nonna’s the first several times you make them. I know this from first hand experience in my family. It’s true for most of Nonna’s recipes since she’s been making them for many years (I am not about to put an age on her on the blog). But seriously they are worth it. I cannot emphasize that enough.
So, have I whet you appetite? Do you think you’ll attempt them?
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