Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

As the weather starts turning cooler, we find that we start craving warm and hearty meals. One of our favorite family meals is stuffed shells. There are so many different ways to customize a stuffed shells recipe; you can incorporate the protein of your choice or add vegetables to get your greens in. For this version, we have chosen to incorporate ground beef, pesto and ricotta. We love the flavor combination of pesto and ricotta. The pesto brings in an herby freshness and the ricotta adds creaminess and unctuousness to the dish. This recipe can be prepared in advance and baked just as your family or friends come over for dinner. Serve this with our Kale Salad: Autumn Edition and you have balanced, full dinner.

Pesto and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Makes: 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 2, 28oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbs salt

Ingredients for the Shells:

  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup basil, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce. In a large pot, sauté the ground beef until it is cooked through. Set aside in a bowl but do not drain the fat. Add the garlic and parsley and saute in the beef fat for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add the beef back into the sauce and keep on simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering, cook your shells according to package directions. When the shells are cooked to al dente, rinse them with cold water. You will want them to be cooled before stuff them.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Create the filling. Combine the ricotta, pesto, egg, basil and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in a large Ziploc bag and cut the tip off the corner of the bag. Use the bag to pipe the mixture into each shell.
  5. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with a layer of the sauce. Add the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in an even layer. Fill the rest of the dish with the sauce and top with the mozzarella. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.

Juicy Lucy Burgers

We were challenged by our good friend Allison at Sweet Then Savory to create a burger recipe in honor of National Burger Month – YAY FOR MAY! We love burgers and dining outside during these warmer nights and jumped on board for this challenge immediately. We decided for a more classic route on this burger but amped up our cheese game by making our burger a Juicy Lucy.  For those unfamiliar, a Juicy Lucy is a popular burger that was invented in Minnesota where the cheese is stuffed inside the burger. If you haven’t tried any of our recipes yet, this one is not to be missed. It is indulgent, juicy and the ultimate way to kick off summer. 

Juicy Lucy Burgers  
Makes: 4, 1/2 pound burgers
Prep Time: 10 minutes  Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients For the Burgers : 

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 8 oz block of cheddar cheese 

Additional Burger Toppings:

  • 4 hamburger buns 
  • Red onion, sliced 
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes on the vine, sliced 
  • Ketchup, mustard, and any other condiments of your choice 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your grill to high heat (about 500 degrees). 
  2. Combine the ground beef, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands (or a spoon if you are grossed out), blend the meat and seasonings together so the salt and pepper are mixed evenly through the mixture. Separate the meat into 4 evenly sized patties.
  3. Cut the cheese block in half and then quarter one half of the block so that you have 4 cubes of cheese. Form each burger patty with one cube of cheese in the center of the patty. 
  4. Once the grill is hot, add the burgers. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. After you flip the burger to cook on the other side, top with an additional slice of cheese during the last minute so it gets nice and melty.
  5. Add red onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, ketchup and anything else your burger craving needs. Put in all in a bun and enjoy.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Spinach Chimichurri

This recipe became an instant hit when we made it for a ski trip a few years ago. Ever since, it is frequently requested because it’s just so. darn. good. You can use any type of steak for this recipe, but we like skirt steak because it takes just a few minutes to cook per side and can go a long way if you’re trying to feed a crowd. The key to this recipe is the sauce- it would taste good on anything, including a tire or piece of shoe leather. 

We call this sauce a chimichurri, but it really is chimichurri inspired. A traditional Argentinian chimichurri uses parsley as it’s primary ingredient, not spinach. It is also more of a chopped herb sauce versus our blended version. We like the spinach because of it’s added added vitamins and minerals, and blending it all together will save you some time in the kitchen. Even though grill season is almost over, we promise you’ll want to enjoy this dish year round!   

Grilled Skirt Steak with Spinach Chimichurri 

Makes: 4 main course servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients For Steak: 

  • 1- 2 lb skirt steak, at room temperature for about 30 minutes  
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil 
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients For Chimichurri:

  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach  
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes 
  • zest and juice of one lime 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • salt and pepper, to taste  

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. 
  2. While the grill is heating, liberally season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Rub the vegetable oil on both sides to create a rub. 
  3. To make the chimichurri, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Blend to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the steak on the grill and cook for four minutes per side, closing the grill between flips. This will give you a medium-rare cook on the steak. 
  5. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes on a baking sheet or cutting board. You can lightly tent foil over the steak to keep it warm.
  6. Cut into thin, 1/2 inch slices against the grain. Drizzle with chimichurri to serve.