Conchiglioni without stuffing are like cannoli without filling — empty shells that practically beg for a filling to give them purpose. These oversized, conch-shaped pasta commonly referred to as shells hold just about any type of stuffing. Like all stuffed foods, the filling and the temperature it reaches are the most important aspect of making stuffed shells. You have to fully cook the stuffing and let it cool before loading it into the shells for baking. You can stuff the shells with just about anything: meat, vegetables and seafood all work.

Things You'll Need

Cook the ingredients for the stuffing and combine. You have to cook all proteins, if using, to their minimum internal temperature for safe consumption. Cook beef to 145 degrees Fahrenheit; cook ground beef to 165 F; cook fish and seafood to 145 F; cook poultry to 165 F; cook pork to 145 F. Place the stuffing in the refrigerator. Chilling the stuffing, and later the shells as well, makes them easier to work with, easier to form into uniform shapes, and helps them to cook at the same rate.

Bring a deep, 10- or 12-inch-wide pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Add the shells to the water.

Stir the shells for the first minute of cooking. Boil the shells 10 minutes, or until pliable but just short of al dente.

Drain the shells and run cold water over them for 8 minutes, or for the same amount of time you boiled them. Drain the shells and coat them with a thin layer of oil to prevent them from drying.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Take the stuffing out of the refrigerator and mix. Adjust the consistency with a bit of water, if needed.

Pour about 1/2 inch of sauce in a shallow baking dish. Any sauce works here; both tomato- and cream-based sauces produce the steam necessary to finish cooking the shells.

Stuff the shells 3/4 full with stuffing. Arrange the shells in the baking dish, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart from each other.

Press the shells gently in the sauce until just the tops rise above the surface; add more sauce if needed. Top the shells with cheese, if desired. Place the dish in the oven.

Bake the stuffed shells until the stuffing reaches 165 F, or about 30 to 35 minutes. Take the dish from the oven and serve the shells with the sauce you cooked them in.

References and Resources

Cook's Thesaurus: Pasta Shapes