Porcini, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms add tons of flavor to stuffed shells, which are baked with just the right amount of cheese for crispy edges.
This is not a recipe for my mom. She doesn’t like mushrooms, of any type, well except for those paper thin black mushrooms you sometimes get in moo shu (I don’t know what they’re called). I love mushrooms, and I’m pretty sure my sister and my dad also like them. I remember my mom would sometimes make dishes for us with mushrooms because we liked them and then pick out all the mushrooms from her own plate. Is that love or what?
If you don’t like mushrooms, I have another vegetarian baked pasta dish on the blog that’s great as a main or side. See my Swiss Alps Mac and Cheese.
For the mushroom lovers out there, and the cheese fans, this dish is sure to please. I used three types of mushrooms: porcini, cremini, and shiitake. Porcini mushrooms pack a lot of flavor, and you only need a small amount. Cremini mushrooms, also called baby portabella mushrooms, are what I use as my generic, everyday mushrooms. You could substitute white button mushrooms. Lastly, I like cooking with slightly more exotic mushrooms, like shiitake or oyster mushrooms, for variety and added flavor. I chose shiitake for this recipe.
Here are some more recipes featuring mushrooms.
So here are the main ingredients. Jonathan and I prefer whole wheat pasta to white pasta, but it seems impossible to find whole wheat jumbo shells. If you do, let me know! There are all of the mushrooms I talked about, plus ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella for the three cheeses. I also used some minced garlic, an egg, and some fresh thyme.
I ground half of the dried porcini mushrooms into a powder that I mixed in with the cheese filling.
I cooked the fresh mushrooms with some garlic and thyme.
When the mushrooms cooled down, I mixed them with the reconstituted porcini mushrooms, the porcini mushroom powder, the ricotta, half the mozzarella cheese, the parmesan cheese, the egg, and some salt and pepper.
Then I stuffed the mixture into the shells and topped with the rest of the mozzarella cheese. I made this recipe in the early days of my photography practice, so it’s been through a few rounds of testing. I used three different brands of jumbo shell pasta. Although I used a 12 ounce package for each version of the recipe, it seems like different brands held different amounts of filling. None of them were wildly off, but I can’t guarantee you won’t have a little extra filling or a few unfilled shells.
If you have extra filling, I would try to stuff or overstuff the shells a little more. If you end up with a couple extra shells, put them in the baking pan with the other shells, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, and bake anyway. They’ll still be good. Again, the difference is not that big. You shouldn’t have more than a half cup of filling or three or four shells leftover.
There are some baked pasta recipes I’ve made that have a lot of sauce, either tomato sauce or cream sauce. The dish gets all cheesy and bubbly, but only the very edges of the pan have crispy cheese. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what I like about this recipe in particular is the shells aren’t drenched in sauce, so every single shell gets a little bit of crispy browned cheese on top.
Crispy browned cheese is one of Jonathan’s favorite foods. There were no complaints when I remade this recipe.
Pair with a side salad to add some color to this dish.