Contrary to popular believe, southerns do not limit their diet to grits and fried chicken. The south has traditionally had dozens of major ports and has consistently been a major commercial center. As the sailors and seaman from around the world came and went from our ports, they brought with them fabulous dishes from their home countries. As a result, Southern cooking today is an infusion of culinary delicacies from around the world and this dish is a great example.
This better-than-a-restaurant Formaggio al Forno is ridiculously easy to make and still gives the impression that you stood over a hot stove for hours on end. You can stuff the shells with any combination of ingredients that you like from cheeses to meats to veggies. But, because Formaggio al Forno literally means Cheese Baked in the Oven let’s go with plenty of delicious cheese.
Pour enough marina sauce into the dish to generously coat the bottom.
Combine cheeses, salt, pepper, oregano and egg. Make sure the egg is well distributed.
The egg acts as a binder to hold everything together. You can leave it out if you prefer or don’t have any.
You can buy expensive cheese if you like…and they are delicious. But, you can also save money and buy the store brand shredded cheese on sale for $2 and it will work well in this dish. While, Italian cheeses do work best, you can use a varieties of different types. During my last grocery store visit I apparently confused the Mozzarella with the Montgomery Jack (well…they both start do with M and I was in a hurry). So I made this recipe with a combination of ‘Pizza Cheese’ and Montgomery Jack and it turned out delicious!
Gently open the cooked pasta shells and stuff with a generous amount of cheese mixture.
Place the stuffed pasta shells into the marina lined dish.
Repeat until your dish is full, but not overcrowded.
Pour over a generous amount of marina sauce. And because it is impossible to have too much cheese, sprinkle with more cheese.
Cover with foil to prevent the pasta shells from getting hard. Bake on 375 for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.
Recipe: Formaggio al Forno
Difficulty: Easy * Preparation Time: 17 Min * Cook Time: 25-30 Min * Serves: 2-4
1/2 box Jumbo Shell Past, cooked al dente
1 jar Marina Sauce
2-3 cups Italian Cheese
1 tablespoon Dried Oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
Coat the bottom of a baking dish with a generous amount of marina sauce.
In a medium bowl, mix together cheese, egg, oregano, salt and pepper. Make sure that the egg is distributed well.
Gently open the cooked pasta shells and fill with generous amounts of the cheese mixture.
Place the filled pasta shells in you baking dish, making sure they are not overlapping.
Once your dish is filled, pour a generous amount of the marina sauce over the stuffed shells and sprinkle with more cheese.
Cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, until done. Uncover and bake for an extra 5 minutes to make sure the cheese is completely melted.