Shells at the Beach
Growing up, my family always spent a week at the beach. By family, I mean Uncles, Aunts, Great Uncles, Great Aunts, my Grandmother and all the sisters, my Great Grandmother, 2nd cousins, 2nd cousins twice removed (whatever that is) and so on. We would rent several houses close together and spend our days on the beach swimming and crabbing. However, the highlight of those trips were the nights. The nights brought food. Wonderful, fabulous food. Dishes that were made without recipes or measurements and were perfect every time. Some nights, the meals were made from blue crabs we caught earlier that day but to me, the best nights were the ones when Aunt Pati cooked. My favorite was always her stuffed shells. I hope she doesn't mind but I am posting her recipe for those of you that want a real treat.
First Make the light tomato sauce
Light Tomato Sauce 2 cups of celery, chopped 2 1/2 cups of onion, chopped 4 large cloves of garlic, minced 1/4 cup olive oil 4 bay leaves 3 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning 4 16oz cans peeled tomatoes 4 Tablespoons of parsley, chopped
Saute celery, onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Add the bay leaves, Italian seasoning, parsley and tomatoes chopped with juices. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes
1 12oz package of Jumbo Shells (cooked per instructions on box)
1 1/2 lb ground beef or Italian sausage (I like to use a little of both) 3 Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
1 Clove of Garlic Minced
2 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning
3 sliced cooked bacon, coarsely diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 slices of moist bread
1/2 cups of milk
1/2 pound grated mozzarella cheese
Brown meat with bay leaves, parsley, garlic, Italian seasoning and bacon. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves the drain the meat mixture.
Mix eggs and milk. Add bread to the mixture and allow to soak for a few minutes.
Add the cheese and moist bread to the meat mixture and mix thoroughly. Stuff the cooked shells with the mixture and place shells in oven proof dish. Pour tomato sauce over shells and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.