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Playing How To Make Stuffed Shells 2 Ways with Vodka Sauce | Rachael Ray

Rach shows you how to make stuffed shells two ways: a spinach-ricotta batch for vegetarians and a crab option for seafood-lovers. 

"If making both fillings, double the amount of sauce and shells." —Rach 

For more ideas, check out this Instant Pot Sausage & Shells With Spinach & Artichoke Hearts, classic Sausage Stuffed Shells and Rach's Baked Shells Casserole.

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 pound large shells
For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 crushed cloves garlic, sliced
  • A fat pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 1 cup vodka (Rach likes Tito's)
  • One 28-ounce can diced or whole Italian tomatoes (if using whole, crush into pieces by hand)
  • 1 bottle tomato passata
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • A sprinkle of sugar
  • A handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup heavy cream
For the spinach filling: 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry
  • Salt and white or fine black pepper 
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (about 1/16 teaspoon) 
  • Juice of ½ lemon 
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup finely diced mozzarella, plus 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Handful fresh basil, to garnish
For the crab filling: 
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper or white pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup dry vermouth or vodka
  • 1 pound crab meat, picked carefully for shell and tendon (Rach likes king leg meat)
  • A few dashes hot sauce
  • Juice of ½ lemon 
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ½ cup packed flat parsley and celery tops, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella 
  • Handful fresh basil, to garnish

Yield

Serves: 6

Preparation

Bring a large pot of water to boil and season it with salt. Add pasta and under cook the pasta 3 minutes less than directions. Drain, arrange cut-side up on parchment-lined tray.  

For sauce, in large pot over medium heat, combine EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, and butter. When butter melts, stir in the garlic and red pepper and stir 2 minutes, add vodka and reduce by half, add tomatoes, passata, salt, sugar, and basil, and simmer 20 minutes, then add cream and reduce heat to low. 

Preheat oven to 400˚F. 

For spinach filling, heat a skillet over medium heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, add garlic and stir a minute or 2, add spinach and combine, season with salt and white or fine black pepper and nutmeg, add juice of ½ lemon and cool. Combine spinach with ricotta, egg, diced mozzarella and half the Parm. Pour a couple of cups of sauce into a baking dish and fill shells, arrange open-side up and pour additional sauce over, making a stripe across each row of the shells. I angle the shells in to fill pan tightly. Top with some shredded mozzarella and remaining Parm. Leave enough of the shells peeking out so you can see that these are spinach-stuffed shells. 

For crab filling, place a skillet over medium heat with EVOO and butter. When butter melts, add shallots and garlic, season with salt, add thyme and lemon zest, and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add dry vermouth or vodka and let it almost evaporate, add crab, combine, add hot sauce and lemon juice and cool. Combine with ricotta, egg, half the Parm cheese and chopped parsley and celery leaves. Pour a couple of cups of sauce into a baking dish and fill shells, arrange open-side up and pour additional sauce over, making a stripe across each row of the shells. I angle the shells in to fill pan tightly. Top with some shredded mozzarella and remaining Parm. Leave enough of the shells peeking out so you can see that these are crab-stuffed shells.   

Cover shells with foil and bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake until cheese is brown and bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes more. Garnish with fresh basil.