Make-Ahead Stuffed Shells
Cheese-stuffed pasta shells are simple weeknight family fare. To transform this recipe into a make-ahead version, we aggressively season the filling and add extra liquid to the sauce; both tactics compensate for the effects of freezing.
Why This Recipe Works
Being able to prepare a satisfying weeknight pasta dish recipe ahead of time is a lifesaver for any time-crunched cook. We wanted to freeze the shells in a stuffed shells recipe, but we didn’t want to lose flavor and texture during freezing, thawing, and heating. While developing our Make-Ahead Stuffed Shells recipe, we found that ricotta loses moisture when frozen and reheated, but adding extra fat and emulsifiers (two extra egg yolks) to the cheese stuffing helped it stay creamy. When the freezer washed out the flavor of our sauce, we simply upped the amount of garlic and added red pepper flakes. To bring more moisture to the sauce in our Make-Ahead Stuffed Shells recipe, we added some chicken broth. We froze the mozzarella topping separately and added it at the end of baking so it melted into a bubbling, golden crust.