This is my recipe for a rather quick and very easy Italian style main dish that is sure to please. I like to make this sometimes with homemade sauce and freshly grated cheeses, but sometimes you want something delicious that doesn't take so much time. It has marinara sauce, pasta shells, ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella... What's not to love? Depending on the sauce you choose to use, it may be either vegetarian or a dish for meat lovers. The recipe may be halved for a smaller group, if desired. Cooking time includes time for boiling the shells. Buon appetito!
2Use olive oil to lightly grease a 9"x13" or larger baking dish or lasagna pan (or you may use cooking spray.) Set aside.
3Add 4 quarts of water to a large pasta pot; add 1 teaspoon salt; bring to boiling over high heat.
4While pasta water is heating, mix together, in a regular mixing bowl, ricotta, 1/2 to 1 cup parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, salt and garlic salt; set aside.
5When water comes to a boil, add pasta shells, return to boiling, reduce heat to medium/medium-high; cook pasta 15 minutes; drain and rinse with cold water to prevent shells from sticking together. Allow pasta to drain well.
6Pour 1 jar of sauce into baking dish/pan; smooth to evenly cover bottom of dish.
7Preheat oven to 350ºF.
8Working one by one, fill each pasta shell with 1 slightly rounded tablespoon of ricotta mixture and place in dish with the sauce; repeat until all ricotta mixture is used (you will probably have several shells left, so just discard the extras.)
9Pour or spoon 1/2 of the second jar of sauce evenly over the filled shells.
10Crush the Italian herb seasoning between your fingers and sprinkle evenly over sauce.
11Place mozzarella slices evenly over top (or, if using shredded cheese, distribute evenly.)
12Pour or spoon remaining sauce, as evenly as possible, over cheese.
13Distribute remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese evenly over top.
14Bake at 350ºF for 40 minutes; cover loosely with sheet of aluminum foil, rotate pan and bake for additional 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted and lightly browned.
15Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
16Cover and refrigerate leftovers. May be frozen in appropriate containers and reheated after thawed in refrigerator.