Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio | A Sweet Spoonful

I’d heard from many friends that buying a house wasn’t for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I’ve started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing’s first: we bought a house! I think! I’m pretty sure! We’re still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we’ll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much.

I’m not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn’t the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we’d be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend’s book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good. 

For two self-employed people, getting pre-approved for a loan today is a challenge in and of itself. It took us quite awhile and the paperwork and questions are still trickling in. And then when we thought it was all set, we were still waiting on the tax transcripts which were “in processing” and seemed to be stuck in the backlogs of IRS tax return hell. I spent hours on the phone with the IRS and ultimately decided to don my favorite power hoodie and head downtown to their offices where there may have been tears and I may have bought my representative a sandwich to try and sweeten the deal. I’m not sure which one worked (maybe it was the power hoodie?), but it does seem like those transcripts are no longer “in processing” and are now “released.” When I heard the news, I started researching movers and we keep talking about how we should really start to think about packing a box or two. I think this thing just might be real.

Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio | A Sweet Spoonful
When Sam and I were dating long distance years ago, I flew up to look at houses to rent with him in Seattle and remember walking into the house we live in now and thinking ‘this is the one.’ I looked at Sam and could tell he thought the same thing. I could just see us there. I had the same feeling when we stepped inside of our new house: I could see us there. It’s big enough to stretch out and start a family, it has a great deal of charm and character while also somehow feeling fresh and renovated, the kitchen will be a great working space for a second cookbook once I get that in the works, and there is a roomy office for Sam. And! A huge walk in closet. It’s a really good house. And I keep pinching myself that — barring anything strange in mortgage land — we will get the keys later this month. We joked that potato salad on the living room floor could be a great first meal, although these stuffed shells wouldn’t be half bad either.

I’ve found in the last few weeks that comfort food gets its name for a reason: it’s what you really crave in stressful times. I haven’t had a good kale salad in awhile, but pasta, nachos and grilled sandwiches have been making the rounds. We just had these stuffed shells for dinner last night, and I hadn’t intended to blog about them, but Sam encouraged me to take a few photos along the way just in case it was blog-worthy and they turned out wonderful — the balance of flavors was spot-on with the sweet fennel and onion, bitter radicchio, and slightly nutty Fontina. I longed for a bit more sauce, so next time I’d heat up some additional marinara to serve on the side. Good comfort food for stressful times … or just anytime, really. I’m loving all the beautiful spring salads I’m seeing online right now, but sometimes a good baked, saucy shell is really what everyone needs more of, no?

 

Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

  • Prep time:25mins
  • Cook time:1hr10mins
  • Inactive time:10mins
  • Total time:1hr45mins

I ended up cutting back on the fennel just a little here and added more cheese, opting for Fontal instead of Fontina, which is apparently Fontina’s less expensive (but no less delicious) cousin. And I think these shells would be great with any number of other vegetables; I love the idea of doing them with different mushrooms, greens and goat cheese. The possibilities are endless.

Lightly adapted from: Food and Wine

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 medium heads radicchio (10 ounces total), thinly sliced
12 ounces jumbo shells
2 cups ricotta cheese
4 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
salt and freshly-ground pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
3 cups homemade or storebought marinara sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the fennel and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes; add water as needed to keep the vegetables from scorching. Add the radicchio and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes, adding water as needed. Scoop the vegetables into a bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta al dente. Drain and cool under running water. Pat shells dry. Fold the ricotta, Fontina, and parsley into the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the eggs.

In another bowl, mix the marinara sauce with the cream. Pour 1 cup into the 9×13-inch baking dish and swirl around a bit to coat the bottom. Stuff each shell with a heaping tablespoon of filling and nestle the shells in the sauce as close together as possible. Drizzle remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake the shells for about 40 minutes, or until bubbling and crisp on top. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Comments

  1. Jacqui

    Congrats! I remember feeling the same way when our offer was accepted. Excitement, relief, denial, happiness. You guys are going to make a wonderful home!

  2. Megan Porta

    Glad this was comfort food for you during a trying time. Congrats on the home! We are in your boat, as well...my husband and I are both self-employed and it can make certain things a little bit more challenging (and stressful).

    I saw this recipe pop up on Blogher and just had to click over. It looks delicious! Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Mary

    Congratulations on the house! My husband and I just bought our first condo in Chicago last fall and it's strange to be a homeowner.

    We love having something that's ours. It feels terribly grown up (and we're in our mid-30s, and we've done plenty of grown-up type things).

    I wish you smooth sailing on the closing and the moving!

  4. Nick (Macheesmo)

    Congrats to you and Sam! It sure is a wild ride but a fun one! My wife and I have lived in our new house for about a year now and love it so much.

    I imagine with both your and Sam's style that the Tudor home is truly awesome and will only become more awesome once you put your touches on it. I'm assuming photos will be coming....

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Nick! Yes, we're super excited and will post some photos once we're in and settled. Hope you're doing well! ~Megan

  5. Kasey

    I am so, so happy for you two. Carb it up!!! xoxo

    1. megang

      So. Many. Carbs, Kasey. xox

  6. Stacy

    I'm so very excited for you and Sam, Megan! Lovely that you can stay in your darling neighborhood, and how wonderful that this house really felt like The One. Cozy comfort food: essential for exhausting, challenging times! Sometimes a spring salad is what you need, but sometimes it's not. xo

    1. megang

      Thank you, Stacy! So nice to see your name pop up yesterday ... yes, we're super excited. Of course, there is a Stacy + Ben room so next time you visit ... :) Hope you're doing well, friend. xo

  7. Susan

    Can't believe it, you saw the house How long ago???
    Unbelievable :) And just for grins, I still cannot get past your grain porridge bowl. LOVE it!!
    Thank you again, it is the only 'porridge' that holds me for any length of time.

  8. Millie | Add A Little

    What a great use for radicchio! I adore it in shaved salads with citrus but it sounds great in shells!

  9. Tisa

    Congratulations! Few things are more stressful and rewarding than finishing the house buying process. Here's to much happiness and many good years there for your family.

  10. molly

    Oh, Megan, HOORAY!!!!!!!!! I've been cheering madly (and okay, nail-biting, occasionally) ever since your last post. SO, SOOOOO glad for you two!!!

    Clearly a case of good things + good people. Although hang onto that power hoodie, I say ;)

    Cheers to you and Sam,

    xx,
    Molly

  11. Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

    Oh congratulations!! What an exciting time. Well done! I like your personal touches in the application process. Noted ;) These shells...so much yes x

  12. Edlyn

    I tip my hat to anyone who is brave enough to navigate the Seattle real estate market. I hear a lot of stories from an agent I work with sometimes and I'm always surprised with the shenanigans that go on. Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS! You did it. Enjoy this wonderful time of your lives. It is truly a special feeling and you deserve it.

  13. Ileana

    As a fellow first-time home buyer who just put in an offer on a sweet bungalow and got her hopes up but lost to another offer, CONGRATS! How exciting to get the dreamy house you both love. I get what you mean about the house hunting process - I never expected it to be so emotional and so competitive! You two must be feeling soooo good! Champagne + potato salad?? :)

    1. megang

      Ah, thanks Ileana! Yes, it's soooo stressful, isn't it? I bet the perfect thing is going to come along for you. As cheesy as that always sounds from people, I really did believe that about this house -- that if it was supposed to be ours, somehow it'd work out. I'll cross my fingers for you! ~Megan

  14. Kate

    Congratulations! That is wonderful news. These stuffed shells look like da bomb!

  15. Kris

    We began our day with your wonderful ratatouille breakfast strata from The Kitchn's website (We hate soggy stratas too! Yours was perfect!) and we ended it with this. It was amazing! Thanks for giving us another idea for using fennel!

    1. megang

      Yay! Awesome, Kris! I love this recipe.

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