Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

turkey and artichoke stuffed shells

Somehow, a recent discussion with neighbors turned toward disaster-preparedness. I think it started because we were admiring “G.’s” immense wine collection, and figured he would be in charge of “taking the edge off” the stress that comes with such an event. It was determined that “B.” would supply guns and ammo – oh, and he’s got connections to a private plane in a hangar about 2 miles down the road, should we need to get out of Dodge.

The plane only seats 10, so it’s important to have something to contribute to the cause, or risk not making the cut. Thankfully, I’ve got a freezer stocked full of healthy meals that could feed our band of escapees for several weeks. That, and they consider me the “religious one,” so I’m sure they think it might be helpful to have a pray-er on board.

{Have I mentioned that I love our neighborhood?!}

My “big batch” cooking gets underway every year around this time. Yesterday, I doubled this recipe for Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce, and made enough for 8 meals {to feed 2}. These are all headed to the freezer for nights I don’t feel like cooking, or the weather makes heading out to get groceries treacherous… or the neighbors decide it’s time for a disaster drill!

Every now and again Husband votes for a new recipe to go immediately into the “Hall of Fame” without the need to tweak further. These stuffed shells made the cut. This is yet another recipe that freezes really well, and makes a perfect weeknight dinner along with a small salad.

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells
Filling
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1¼ pounds ground turkey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus ½ teaspoon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus ¼ teaspoon
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Arrabbiatta Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups finely chopped yellow onion
  • 6 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (14½-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
Topping
  • 1½ cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 7-8 minutes. Drain pasta, and carefully lay out on a sheet of waxed paper. {You'll have some shells that are torn or broken, but there should be plenty left for stuffing.}
  2. Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, broth, parsley, sugar and red pepper flakes. Simmer 10 minutes.
  5. To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9x13x2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  6. To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 20 minutes (60 minutes if shells are frozen.)

Maybe you’re not an artichoke fan {I’m a recent convert}. These are delicious made with a 10-ounce package of thawed frozen spinach in its place. I’ve even made it with both. You could certainly swap out the turkey for beef, or just go all veggie. We think the sauce is what makes it so good, though. I’ve tried it without the pancetta, but Husband and I both agree that it adds a wonderful depth of flavor.

stuffed shelled - eight meals

Here are the results of yesterday’s cooking session. Really, it takes two pots of water the same amount of time to boil as one does, and doubling the recipe is easy. These meals are packed in my favorite pressboard containers. I order them from a restaurant supply company, and they’re fabulous because they go from freezer to oven, and they’re disposable. I’m about due for another order, so if anyone is interested in splitting a case, let me know!

shells - with labels

It’s important to label everything that’s going into the freezer. I created printable labels for dishes that I make regularly, complete with cooking instructions. This helps for nights that Husband is in charge, or for when we drop off a meal for a neighbor.  Notice how I put the label on the side of the container rather than the top.  That makes your meals so much easier to find when the freezer is stacked full of options.

You can download a label template here.

Whether you’re practicing disaster-preparedness, or just wanting to have some great meals on hand for a busy weeknight, these shells will be a hit.

NOTE :: I had some leftover shells, so raided the fridge to see what I could fill them with. These have spinach, shredded zucchini, diced tomatoes and seasoned artichoke hearts, along with a little Ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper. 

turkey shells - leftovers

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One Response to Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

  1. Kay November 7, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    What a great lead up to a really great recipe. Hahaa…I too am considered the “religious” one in our family. My mother insists on sitting next to me on a plane…just in case we go down…I some how will save her! Thanks for the freezer container tip with labels. Can’t wait to cook up a batch of these yummy stuffed shells.

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