What’s for Dinner?
Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Shells with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
-Courtesy of Chef Hank Winkle for the Walnut Marketing Board
5 ounces gorgonzola cheese
5 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely chopped, toasted California walnuts
1 cup (one 7 ¼ ounce jar, or half a 15 ounce jar) roasted red peppers, drained
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups milk (2 percent), heated
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
20 – 22 large dried pasta shells (about 6 ounces), about 2 inches long
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (for topping)
1. To make the filling, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the gorgonzola cheese, ricotta cheese and egg yolk and blend until smooth. Add the walnuts and process in on/off spurts just until blended. Scrape into a large bowl. Without a food processor, beat the ingredients together in a large bowl using a hand-held electric mixer, or a big spoon and a lot of elbow grease. Set the filling aside.
2. To make the sauce, puree the peppers in a food processor until smooth. Set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan over moderate heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and garlic and cook, whisking constantly, for about 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, then blend in the wine and red pepper puree. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the parmesan cheese, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Drop the pasta shells into a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook until the shells are barely tender, and remain firm enough, and with enough resistance, to hold their shape, about 9 to 10 minutes (cooking will probably take less time than the package directions suggest). Drain the shells thoroughly in a colander, rinse them with cold water, then place them, open side down, on paper towels to drain until you fill them.
4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Get out a baking dish just large enough to hold the stuffed shells in one layer, such as a 9- x 12-inch oval, an 11- x 7-inch rectangular, or a 9-inch square baking pan. Coat the baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread about half the red pepper sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the filling into each pasta shell and place, filled side up, in the baking dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the filled shells and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake about 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 to10 minutes more, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.