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Southwest Stuffed Shells

1 pound jumbo pasta shells

1 1/2 pounds (about 3 cups) ricotta cheese
1 egg
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cutin 3/4" cubes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 large onion, chopped
6 Tbs. olive oil
3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped, or 2 28-ounce
cans plum tomatos, drained, liquid reserved
6 Tbs. red or white wine
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 4-ounce can green chilies, drained and coarsely chopped
1 fresh or canned jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs discarded, finely minced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

Meanwhile make the filling. Whisk together the ricotta and egg.
Stir in the Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses, cilantro and pepper.
(The filling can be made a day ahead; bring back to room temperature
before using).Cook the shells in boiling, salted water just until
al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overcook the shells.
Drain well. (Some of the shells will be broken, but you will only
need 36 to 40 perfect shells for the recipe).

While the pasta is cooking, make the tomato-chili sauce by sauteeing
the onion in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat
until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes,
wine, salt and pepper. If using canned tomatoes, add about 1 cup
of the liquid). Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes. Add the green
chilies and jalapeno pepper and simmer until slightly reduced,
about 5 minutes more. (The sauce can be made a day ahead and
refrigerated).

Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottoms each of 2 shallow
2-quart baking dishes. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Stuff the shells by spooning about 1 Tablespoon of the filling into
each. Place the shells, filled side up and close together but not
touching, in the sauce-coated baking dish. (The recipe can be
prepared to this point up to 4 hours before serving; bring back to
room temperature before baking).Cover dishes with foil and bake in
the preheated oven until hot, about 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile,
reheat the reserved sauce over low heat.

Serve the shells by spooning a liberal amount of tomato-shili sauce
onto serving plates, and arrange shells on the sauce. Pass the
remaining sauce separately.

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