Ricotta-and-Fontina-Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

These delicious stuffed shells get flavor from a mixture of two kinds of
cheese and vegetables. © Christina Holmes

Food & Wine's senior recipe developer, Grace Parisi, is a Test Kitchen superstar. In this series, she shares some of her favorite recipes to make right now.

Stuffed shells were a big treat when I was growing up. A little bit more labor intensive than baked ziti but not as complicated as lasagna, my mom would make shells for special occasions. Hers were straight ricotta-filled shells with a homemade (delicious) tomato sauce. Sometimes she’d put meat in the sauce or add spinach to the ricotta. Though I loved hers, I like a bit more texture and complexity to my stuffed shells. Sweet, caramelized fennel mixed with sautéed bitter radicchio, stinky (yummy) Fontina cheese, and creamy ricotta fill my shells. I originally developed this recipe to satisfy an editorial challenge: A jarred tomato sauce taste test. We tried dozens of jarred marinara sauces and some were phenomenally disgusting. I will not name names. The one favored by our staff was Rao’s—no surprise. It has a great consistency, rich flavor and spot-on seasoning, and is perfect for using straight out of the jar or in a recipe. For this dish, I combined the sauce with some cream to make it even richer and silkier. Though this recipe may seem complicated, using a good-quality jarred sauce, albeit a little doctored, makes it entirely doable. SEE RECIPE »