Stuffed shells are a labor of love that is well worth the effort, especially when the filling consists of luxurious ingredients like lump crab and shrimp spiced with Old Bay. This dish is a perfect centerpiece for a special dinner, ensuring every bite is as memorable as the company you’re sharing it with.
- 8 ounces lump crabmeat, roughly chopped
- 8 ounces shrimp, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided, plus more for topping
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, divided, plus more for topping
- Salt and pepper, as needed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ½ cup cognac
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato purée
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (20 shells), cooked
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat Oven: Begin by heating your oven to 350 F.
- Prepare the Filling: In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add a thin layer of oil. Add shrimp, crab meat, and 2 cloves of minced garlic, cooking until the shrimp turns pink and the garlic is fragrant (about 2 minutes). Stir in the lemon juice, followed by the cream cheese cubes, stirring until they’re fully melted (roughly 3-4 minutes). Mix in the Old Bay seasoning, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare the Sauce: Melt butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining minced garlic and diced onion, cooking until softened. Introduce the tomato paste, stirring well and letting it cook until it starts to adhere to the skillet’s base (~3 minutes). Deglaze with cognac, allowing it to simmer and reduce by half. Add the tomato purée and heavy whipping cream, bringing it to a gentle simmer. Mix in the remaining parsley and red pepper flakes, letting it thicken for about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
- Assembly: Spread the sauce at the base of a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Using a small spoon, stuff each shell with the crab mixture, ensuring they’re filled but not bursting. Arrange these shells snugly in the dish.
- Bake: Sprinkle grated parmesan over the stuffed shells. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese has thoroughly melted, roughly 20-25 minutes.
- Serve: Once baked, remove from the oven and garnish with additional parsley and red pepper flakes.
This dish pairs excellently with a leafy green salad or roasted vegetables. If you’ve prepared it ahead of time, remember to chill it thoroughly before baking. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. Due to the high cream content, it’s recommended not to freeze.