A Season for Hotdish

by | Oct 2023

Baked Unstuffed Shells

Photo: Kowalski’s Markets

I’ve lived in Minnesota for nearly three decades, but I didn’t grow up here. Hotdish wasn’t part of my culinary upbringing. Sure, I knew Tuna Casserole and Turkey Tetrazzini, but I didn’t have my first bite of Tater Tot Hotdish until I was in my 30s. Decades later, I’m a hot dish connoisseur.

My recipe for Baked Unstuffed Shells uses creamy ricotta to bring the silky richness that hot dish lovers, like me, crave this time of year. So, pull out your coziest sweaters and a bottle of red, because it’s hotdish season again!

Baked Unstuffed Shells

Serves 8

  • kosher salt, for cooking the pasta
  • 1 lb. conchiglioni dry pasta
  • 14 oz. package Kowalski’s Ready-to-Sauce Meatballs (from the deli department), cut into 8 pieces each
  • 1 lb. (approximately) ricotta
  • 32 oz. Kowalski’s Signature Fresh Pomodoro Sauce, divided
  • 8 oz. Italian four-cheese shredded cheese
  • 2 tsp. pizza seasoning

In a large pot of heavily salted water, cook noodles according to package directions (do not overcook); drain. In an extra-large mixing bowl, add cooked pasta, chopped meatballs, ricotta and half the pomodoro sauce; stir until combined. Pour mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish, sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Evenly spoon remaining sauce on top; top with shredded cheese and sprinkle with seasoning. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven until golden-brown and bubbly (20–25 minutes); let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Rachael Perron is the culinary and branding director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications. Find more at kowalskis.com.


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